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Packers want more output from tackles

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    By GREG A. BEDARD
    gbedard@journalsentinel.com
    Posted: June 12, 2008

    Green Bay - The retirement of No. 4 might be the No. 1 issue the Green Bay Packers have to deal with heading into the upcoming season but it's not the only one.

    When defensive tackle Corey Williams was traded to the Cleveland Browns on March 1, his 14 sacks over the past two seasons went with him. And those are not easy to replace. Consider that Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, Colin Cole, Justin Harrell, Daniel Muir and Conrad Boston — the seven other tackles on the roster last season — combined for two.

    The Packers insist they’re not worried.

    “We’ve done it by committee ever since I’ve been here, and we’re going to continue to do that,” defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn said recently. “The group just has to take up the slack.”

    That might be easier said than done. Most teams view consistent quarterback pressure up the middle as a luxury, one that complements their rushers at end and linebacker. In the Packers’ scheme it’s almost a necessity since they have shown an aversion to blitzing under defensive coordinator Bob Sanders.

    So the Packers will start the season without 20% of their 36 sacks — 78% of the nine generated by the tackles — from a season ago. Where will they make up the difference?

    The Packers will start with Nunn’s top option: the status quo. They have, without question, one of the deepest tackle rotations in the league. Pickett, Muir and Bolston are more run-pluggers but Jolly, Jenkins, Harrell and Cole have shown an ability to get to the quarterback.

    But with coach Mike McCarthy saying Thursday that Jolly (shoulder), Harrell (back) and Cole (forearm) won’t be fully back from their injuries until after the start of training camp next month, there might not be enough time to get them up to speed to fill that role.

    That could leave Jenkins in the best position to help fill the void left by Williams.

    Jenkins — who Nunn said finally has regained his quickness from knee and ankle injuries that limited him to just one sack last year — has done it before. Before converting to defensive end for the final four games of the 2006 season, Jenkins had 10½ sacks in the first 41 games of his career at tackle. He was so adept at rushing from the inside that the Packers moved him from end to tackle on third downs last season.

    And they might need him there even more next season.

    “It may unfold that way,” Nunn said. “It’s going to be one of those deals that when we get to training camp, we have to be able to adjust from what we get, when we get Johnny and Colin Cole back to see where they are. So there are a lot of factors there.”

    The only way the Packers would even contemplate moving Jenkins is if someone else proves capable of playing the first two downs at right defensive end. Michael Montgomery, Jason Hunter and fourth-round pick Jeremy Thompson have played there during organized team activities, which concluded Thursday.

    Montgomery, 24, would likely get the first chance at winning the job. A knee injury during the exhibition season caused him to miss the first seven games of 2007. At 6 feet 5 inches and 270 pounds, he has the size and also the quickness to be an every-down player but has yet to showcase it because of injury. Montgomery said he was ready now.

    “It’s a new season and I’m coming in with a clean slate,” he said. “I don’t think people have seen me at my best.

    “I’m pulling out all the stops so I’m good to go this season.”

    Montgomery is also well aware that a good showing on his part could mean a featured role at right defensive end.

    “I think I’m going to prove that I can be out there so they can move (Jenkins) inside,” Montgomery said.

    With Pro Bowl player Aaron Kampman on the left side, Thompson was drafted out of Wake Forest with the hopes he can provide some rush opposite Kampman. Thompson thinks he’ll be ready to compete in training camp.

    “Definitely,” Thompson said. “The more time I have in the system, it will put us on even levels. Our athletic ability — our football playing ability — will be showcased instead of whoever knows the playbook the best.”

    Hunter, 24, has been known mostly for his play on special teams during his first three seasons, but he feels he’s getting a good look at defensive end for the first time.

    “It feels like they have more confidence in me,” Hunter said. “I’m just working on my skills so they can be totally confident in me.”

    “I think I’m a natural pass-rusher. During these practices I’ve been focusing on being a more efficient and steadier pass-rusher. That’s my strong suit.”

    Whether it’s one of the tackles who emerges or a shift by Jenkins because of improving depth at end, the Packers know they have to account for Williams’ past production. Sacks from a tackle are rare but the Packers’ scheme needs them to flourish.

    “I think Bob Sanders has done a very good job of utilizing different personnel (groupings), and I think that is something you’ll see as we move forward into training camp and once we start our season,” McCarthy said. “When the depth of your football team increases, it’s our responsibility as coaches to make sure that we are creating ways to get those players on the field and try to take advantage of situations and matchups.”
     
  2. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    Jenkins if not injured can produce pressure and generate sacks from the middle. I was predicting he'd be a Pro Bowler in '07, then he got hurt. If he's 100%, don't be surprised if he gets C Williams' 7 sacks from the middle.

    I'm hoping Harrell can generate pressure too. I'm hoping he's just not a run stuffer and a more multi-dimensional player. We could use more pressure from the middle. Towards the end of the season, I saw Kampman seeing nothing but double teams all day against pretty much everyone.
     
  3. chibiabos

    chibiabos Cheesehead

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    :roll: End to end the pack have good defensive players but, no outstanding talents. It is also an area prone to injuries so GB does the next best thing overloads the roster with defensive linemen. Perhaps the fault lies with Sanders approach but, it would really be nice to get a real stud in that "D" line. I really don't see that with the players they now have. Harrell apparently does have injury problems. No big surprise there as his whole football career has been studded with injuries. And it's not likely that TT will buy a stud at this stage of his career.
     
  4. tromadz

    tromadz Cheesehead

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    Aaron Kampman might disagree with you.
     
  5. chibiabos

    chibiabos Cheesehead

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    :pop: I take nothing away from Kampman but, he isn't a Reggie White or a Carl Eller and that's the type I was referring to.
     
  6. tromadz

    tromadz Cheesehead

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    If those are your expectations, you might be waiting a while.
     
  7. chibiabos

    chibiabos Cheesehead

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    :lol: Expectations, no! Desires, yes! One can always dream.
     
  8. favre2driver

    favre2driver Cheesehead

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    KGB and the left side was horrible near the end of the season. Teams doubled kampman and opposing QBs had all day to throw.

    o ya, did you know that pressure from the middle affects peyton manning more than outside pressure does. ;)
     

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