With the lockout looking like it could finally be ending, let's take a look at how free agency will impact the Green Bay Packers defensive line.
Obviously, the big potential departure from the team is DE Cullen Jenkins, who last year posted seven sacks in only 11 games. Despite his injury problems last year, Jenkins was still a big impact player on the NFL's second-ranked defense.
If (more likely when) Cullen Jenkins joins another team the Packers will have to carry on with the players they already have on there roster. I highly doubt Ted Thompson will add anyone in free agency, especially since he showed by winning the Super Bowl that his way works.
With that being said, let's take a look at who else is on the roster.
The Packers are set at NT, with B.J. Raji about to explode and take the league by storm, and Ryan Pickett being able to mover over to the nose if needed along with Howard Green. Raji had 5.5 sacks last year, which is very impressive for a 330-lb NT.
Pickett of course will be a starting DE first. He played nicely at that spot last year, doing a more than adequate job stuffing the run. The other starting job will likely go to last years second-round pick Mike Neal. Neal showed some promise early on but went on IR with seemingly half of the team. Second year player C.J. Wilson could contribute at DE as well.
He has shown that he can stop the run pretty well in his limited time and should be improved going into this season. Another player that could add to the defensive line is DE/NT Howard Green, who was picked up during the season last year and made his impact felt. A big part of why Nick Collins was able to get his pick six in the Super Bowl was because Green got right into Big Ben's face and almost got a sack.
Ultimately, it will be hard for the Packers to replace Cullen Jenkins' sack production, but overall they should do a good job replacing him. After all, he did only have 18 tackles on the season and the Packers played five games without him last year.
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