I have liked Cullen Jenkins ever since he came in off the bench for an injured Grady Jackson during a season opening Monday Night game against the Carolina Panthers. He played defensive tackle that night, but became the starting right end for the Packers defense after taking over for KGB against the 49ers two seasons ago. Last offseason he was rewarded with a lucrative (by Packer standards) contract extension and seemed to be a rising star opposite Aaron Kampman, a perfect bookend that would terrorize quarterbacks for years to come.
Jenkins was plagued by ‘injuries’ last year, or so goes the official Packer line. (Curious then that Jenkins hardly ever appeared on the official injury report) His coaches pointed to Jenkins playing through pain as a reason for his less than stellar numbers in the ‘pressure’ and ‘sack’ categories. But if you go back and focus on Jenkins during last years games, he does a whole lot of dancing with opposing left tackles, especially after his patented ‘I-Want-To-Be-Known-As-a-Poor-Man’s-Dwight-Freeney’ spin move fails. (and it does more often than not). Grumblings began towards the end of the season and the playoffs that perhaps the Packers had, not exactly wasted, but overspent to keep the one dimensional Jenkins. (Because for all his limitations so far as a pass rusher, the man CAN play the run.)
Well, 2008 presents a clean slate for Jenkins and his ability to get to the quarterback, and what better news could he and the Packers receive than to find that the Vikings mountainous left tackle Bryant McKinnie is suspended for the first four games of the year, including the season opener against the Packers. Replacing McKinnie will be Artis Hicks, better known to his friends as “Revolving Door”.
If Jenkins doesn’t embarrass Hicks, he will never be the pass rusher the Packers thought they were getting when they signed him to an extension.