Facets of familiarity await Aaron Rodgers vs. ‘different’ Vikings defense

Perhaps the biggest issue facing the Packers is who exactly will be available to play. Tonyan is one of four Offensive starters, along with receiver Allen Lazard and Offensive tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, whose status for Sunday is in question.

Lazard (ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday, while Tonyan, Bakhtiari and Jenkins are all listed as limited on the injury report due to their ongoing recovery from knee injuries.

Rodgers commented last week that Tonya was a definite presence in the team’s extended 11-on-11 workout before the weekend break, so that bodes well. He’s just two seasons removed from catching 11 TD passes from Rodgers, who would like to “get him going early.”

There’s more uncertainty up front, though, with a pectoral injury being added to the report for Jenkins and the continued “day-to-day” approach with Bakhtiari. Head Coach Matt LaFleur has been non-committal as to what the Offensive line will look like come Sunday.

“It would definitely settle everybody’s nerves maybe a little bit,” Rodgers said, if Bakhtiari and Jenkins get cleared to go. “But both the tackles who would play if those guys didn’t (have) played a lot of football for us.”

Rodgers was referring to Yosh Nijman, who started eight games at left tackle last year, and second-year pro Royce Newman, who started 16 games at right guard but would be next up at right tackle if Jenkins remains sidelined.

At receiver, Rodgers expressed confidence Lazard could contribute even if he can’t practice much, as long as the ankle heals. Either way, his potential absence or reduced workload could mean a bigger opening-day calling than expected for Rookie receivers Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson behind Veterans Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins.

In that vein, last week’s “four quarters” of 11-on-11 work after roster cuts were an important transition for the young receivers to this week’s game prep and the action that awaits in their NFL debuts.

“The speed is amped up,” Rodgers said. “They felt the other day, I think, what me in a game-like situation is like – my energy, the expectation, the tempo with which we play at.

“Look, they know what the expectations are. We’re not going to put them in positions to not be successful, but there’s going to be opportunities for them when they get out there to make plays, and I’m confident they’re going to make the plays that are available.”

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