The following is the sixth installment in a series of stories that’ll examine the Packers’ roster position by position. This installment examines the defensive line.
GREEN BAY—A youth movement that has seen the Packers draft four defensive linemen the past two years welcomes back a player from the past, and hopes competition will improve a unit that struggled against the run late last season.
First-round draft pick Datone Jones was selected with the new-age game in mind. Jones has the size to be a traditional two-gap defensive end in the Packers’ 3-4 system, but he also has the athletic ability to play in space against athletic quarterbacks such as Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III, against whom the Packers will play in the first two weeks of this season.
“He has very good length,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said of Jones. “He’s a very lean guy. He’s one of those guys that’ll be able to put on weight.
“You like those athletic guys that can go out in space and rush from the outside. We could see him do a lot of the things we ask our defensive linemen to do. We play a lot of sub packages and he can move inside. They play a very similar defense at UCLA.”
The translation is that much will be expected from Jones, especially as his athletic gifts pertain to stopping quarterbacks such as Kaepernick and RGIII, who are as much a threat with their legs as they are with their arms. Kaepernick, of course, led an offense that piled up 579 yards against the Packers last January.
The Packers selected
Peterson rushed for 508 yards in three games against the Packers last season, and Kaepernick piled up 181 yards rushing and teammate Frank Gore 119 yards in the Packers’ playoff loss. Clearly, stopping the run will be a major focus in this year’s training camp.
“There’s going to be great competition. We have a group that can do a lot of real good things. Youth brings a lot of energy,” Defensive Line Coach Mike Trgovac said.
Previously featured in "Countdown to camp":
QBs - Rodgers on pace for greatness
RBs - Lacy, Franklin offer hope
TEs - Well worth watching, storylines abound
WRs - 'Big three' will lead
OL - Right tackle up for grabs