By Aaron Nagler on Mar 05, 2009 with 6 Comments
With both Cullen Jenkins and Nick Barnett reportedly out until training camp, it will be interesting to follow two things that will naturally follow.
- Who takes advantage of their absence?
- How far behind will Jenkins and Barnett be on the 3-4 install when they return?
The second is a bit easier to answer than the first. Obviously, ‘mental reps’ are the buzzwords thrown around when any player is forced to the bench, and Jenkins and Barnett will be taking as many as possible, to be sure. They will need to devour their playbooks and immerse themselves in as much film study as much as possible until August. The problem is neither player has ever played in anything resembling the type of system they will be stepping into. Barnett in particular will be asked to shift his style of play drastically. Jenkins will at least have some familiarity, especially on passing downs when he moves inside to defensive tackle. But his job at end is vastly different and the physical aspects (ie punishment) are quite different than what he is used to out on the edge.
The first question posed above is what Thompson and McCarthy live for. They’ve watched as guys like Tramon Williams and Johnny Jolly have started way under the radar and emerged as respectable players. No doubt Thompson is looking to players like Alfred Malone and Desmond Bishop to take this opportunity and run with it. Of course, you can’t tell anything at either the linebacker or defensive end position without pads on, but the on field work Malone, Bishop and others receiver in Jenkins’ and Barnett’s absence will be invaluable when the pads go on at the beginning of training camp. Barnett in particular will face the most competition to maintain his spot as a starter. This is in line with McCrathy’s off-stated belief in constant competition bringing out the best in his roster and it says here that the guys fighting behind Jenkins and Barnett will surprise a lot of Packer fans come late July.
Filed Under: Cullen Jenkins • Mike McCarthy • Nick Barnett • Ted Thompson