After a loss to the Minnesota Vikings last November, Cullen Jenkins suggested that newDom Capers wasn’t properly using some of the Green Bay Packers’ best playmakers.
Jenkins later chalked it up to post-loss frustration. But during the first day of the mandatory minicamp on Monday, Capers unveiled a potentially new playmaking role for Jenkins. The defensive end took several snaps at left outside. That meant the 6-foot-2, 305-pound Jenkins was roaming around in a two-point stance instead of his usual position with his hand on the ground.
“I always feel like I can, it’s just a matter of what they ask me to do on particular plays,” Jenkins said. “You never know what you’re actually going to carry into the season, but we’re experimenting with different things. It’s pretty cool to be (standing) up, actually.”
The Packers have been talking about trying to find ways to let Jenkins rush the quarterback more, but Capers hadn’t shown that look during any of the organized teampractices that were open this offseason.
“Cullen’s a guy that we feel we can move around,” Capers said. “He’s a rare athlete for a guy his size, so we’re trying to work him in some different spots. He’s smart enough where he can handle that. When you get to this point, we’re through our OTAs and into minicamp, you try to make some provisions in case you have an injury or two.”
The Packers don’t plan to use Jenkins at outside linebacker on every down, but at this point it appears to be something they’re strongly considering in spots. He worked at his usual rightspot in the base 3-4 defense – with Brad Jones working as the top left outside linebacker — but took several snaps at left outside linebacker in both the nickel and the big okie package. When Jenkins moved outside in the nickel, Justin Harrell and Jarius Wynn were the two down linemen. Jenkins even dropped into coverage a couple of times, but moving him to outside linebacker is primarily a pass-rushing move.
Other than a few snaps last season in the seldom-used psycho package (with only one down lineman), Jenkins said he hasn’t played without his hand on the ground since he was an outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme during his freshman year of college at Central Michigan.
Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac asked Jenkins to improve his conditioning in the offseason so that he could be more effective as a pass rusher. Jenkins said he’s been doing more cardiovascular work and reported for the offseason program more lean than he was last year, when he played at between 310 and 315 pounds. His goal this season is to play at between 295 and 300.
Last season, Jenkins finished second on the team with 4½ sacks but narrowly missed out on at least that many more sack opportunities.
“His biggest problem last year was he didn’t finish sacks,” Trgovac said. “If he would have finished sacks, he would have led the league at the (defensive) tackle position. He’s so quick and so explosive and can do so many different things. That’s what we’re working on, finishing the drill.”
Harris’ return delayed
Cornerback Al Harris appears unlikely to be ready for the start of training camp.
Coach Mike McCarthy said that of all the players coming off significant injuries, Harris should be the only player who may not be ready when camp opens July 31. Harris is coming off reconstructive knee surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Nov. 22 against San Francisco. Harris also damaged other ligaments and muscles, which complicated his surgery and rehabilitation.
“Everybody knows the type of pro that Al Harris is,” McCarthy said. “It’s a serious injury, and we’re going to be smart with him and give him the time that he needs.”
Harris wouldn’t challenge McCarthy’s assessment that he might not be ready for camp but maintained his desire to be ready for the regular-season opener on Sept. 12 at Philadelphia.
“I can only control what I can control, and that’s how hard I work and what I can endure rehab wise,” Harris said.
The Packers haven’t ruled out the possibility that Harris might have to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he would miss the first six weeks of the regular season.
Safety Atari Bigby (unsigned) and defensive end Johnny Jolly (excused) were the only two players who didn’t report for the mandatory minicamp.
Bigby can’t be fined because he’s not under contract. He has refused to sign his restricted free agent tender. Jolly has been given time off until his trial on charges of possession of codeine begins. It is scheduled for July 30, the day players are supposed to report for training camp.
The same players coming off injuries who have been sitting out during the OTAs remained sidelined. They were: receiver(knee), safety Will Blackmon (knee), safety Derrick Martin (ankle), tight end Spencer Havner (shoulder), linebacker Nick Barnett (knee), guard/tackle T.J. Lang (wrist), guard/center Jason Spitz (back), defensive lineman Ryan Pickett (shoulder), receiver Donald Driver (knee), defensive end Ronald Talley (knee) and Harris (knee).
Four NFL teams — Baltimore, Detroit, Jacksonville and Oakland – had OTA days taken away because they violated offseason rules about practicing, but the Packers’ NFLPA player representative said there haven’t been any violations in McCarthy’s offseason program.
And player rep Mark Tauscher said he didn’t think any members of the Packers would hesitate to report a violation if one occurred.
“If it was going overboard, there’s no doubt we would do something,” Tauscher said. “But from my perspective, and I haven’t heard a lot of rumblings, I don’t think there’s been any complaints.”
Offseason rules say no live contact can occur during workouts.
One more practice for fans
Tuesday’s 10:45 a.m. practice will be the last chance for fans to see the Packers practice until training camp opens. McCarthy closed Wednesday’s final minicamp practice. He wouldn’t say what he’s trying to keep the public from seeing.
“If I didn’t want the public to know about it, why would I talk about it?” McCarthy said. “But (the media) will be there, so you’ll let them know.”
according to cnn.com