Inside Or Out, Jenkins Causing Problems For Opponents

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Before Sunday's game, Cullen Jenkins hadn't started at defensive end since his college days at Central Michigan.

But judging by the way he looked there on Sunday afternoon, one could have mistaken him for someone who's played the position regularly since he was a youngster in pee-wee football.

Jenkins, the Packers third-year man who normally plays defensive tackle, started the game in place of right defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, a move that was made in part to give "KGB" more rest for passing downs, but also to give the Packers a little more bulk against the run.

However, the move paid dividends not only on running downs, but against the pass as well. The 290-pound Jenkins appeared to hold up strong at the point of attack and also got to quarterback Jon Kitna for three sacks as well as a fumble recovery.

Despite such a strong performance in his first full-time duty at defensive end, Jenkins admitted that he had one regret.

"I still wish I could have gotten a couple more sacks early on in the game," the soft-spoken Jenkins said. "There were at least a few times when I let him get away. So I will have to look at the film, and make sure it doesn't happen again."

While he's doing that, other teams will undoubtedly be trying to figure out a way to stop Jenkins from getting to the quarterback with such regularity. Though he may seem like a relatively new threat to his opponents, his teammates know better.

"He had a great game," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "We all know he's a great pass rusher. He just got in the groove today so everybody could see it. But he's an excellent pass rusher."

Head Coach Mike McCarthy agreed with Pickett.

"Outstanding," McCarthy said. "He's really taking full advantage of his opportunities, particularly the last two weeks. I'm very happy with the production we're getting from Cullen."

Jenkins wasn't about to take credit for his stellar play on Sunday, however. Instead, he focused on singing the praises of his teammates after the game.

"It was a team effort," Jenkins said. "A couple of the sacks came on pressure from other guys, picks from other guys, that ended up getting me free. It was just a good team effort."

{sportsad300}Two of Jenkins' sacks came on third down to force punts, and his fumble recovery was on a botched fourth-down pitch by Kitna, all in the first half. He now has 6 1/2 sacks on the season and made it clear that he was happy to perform so well in front of the Lambeau Field faithful as well as against Detroit, his birthplace.

"It was great," he said. "Corey (Williams) and I were actually talking earlier about all the sacks we've had this year, (but) we haven't had many sacks at home. It was nice to go out and finally do something in front of the home crowd and have a big game like that, and get the win, it's just great."

The sentiment among many of the players after Sunday's win was that the defense, with six sacks, played a great game. Not to be overlooked, however, was the fact that they also accounted for three takeaways, including two interceptions.

Certainly the pressure up front by the entire defensive line had a great deal to do with that success. The fact that Jenkins stood out is fitting for an undrafted free agent whom the Packers picked up three seasons ago and one that also seems to get better by the season.

"He's worked his way to this point," fellow defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "He deserves everything he gets. He's a great individual. He's had a chance to expand his role and he's made the most of it, and that's what you have to do to have success in this league. When you get the opportunity you have to make the most of it and I definitely think he's doing that."

Although he certainly looked the part, it might come as a surprise that Jenkins played as well as he did as quickly as he did. After all, besides playing there last week in the win over the 49ers, this was the most action he has had at defensive end in his pro career.

"It feels good to know I can go out there and step up and play and contribute to the team, either from the end or inside," Jenkins said. "It feels pretty good to be able to do that."

Though one great game doesn't make a superstar -- at least not in most cases -- McCarthy can't help but be happy with what he saw on the field from Jenkins on Sunday.

"He's a problem," McCarthy said. "If you look at the way he plays inside, he's so active, particularly in the pass rush. He has a great motor. He's instinctive. Now, you put him outside, he's a problem for the tight end."

Not to mention the quarterback.

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