Jarran Reed 'can play anywhere' on Packers' defensive line

Free-agent addition provides veteran depth up front

DL Jarran Reed

GREEN BAY – For all the talk about the Packers' receiving corps going through changes, on the other side of the ball the defensive line is taking on a new look as well.

Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry are the mainstays, while T.J. Slaton enters his second season in 2022 with likely more playing time and responsibility headed his way. Then two new additions were brought in to boost the upper levels of the rotation, first-round draft pick Devonte Wyatt and veteran free agent Jarran Reed.

Which has led to speculation about who's going to line up where and when. Does Slaton move Clark off the nose to a three-technique spot, with Lowry or Reed on the other side? Or can Reed go head-up on the center as well? Who's capable of sliding further out to perhaps take on the offensive tackle? And where does the rookie Wyatt fit into the mix?

They're good problems to have, as the Packers appear to possess their deepest top five on the defensive front in a number of years. As far as the where and when of his playing time, the veteran newcomer Reed isn't the least bit hung up on it.

Now with his third team in the last three years, Reed is simply ready to take his alignment and assignment and go to work.

"I feel I can play anywhere, especially in this defensive scheme," Reed said following a minicamp practice last week. "I don't like to have limitations on my game. I like to be able move around, to be mobile up and down the line."

That's the type of unit defensive line coach/run game coordinator Jerry Montgomery wants to build, which makes Reed a solid, sensible fit in Joe Barry's second year leading the defense.

Throughout the spring, Montgomery's priority for Reed has been to get locked in mentally, because what the 6-3, 307-pound lineman has done physically over six seasons in the NFL (2016-20 with Seattle, 2021 with Kansas City) is evident.

He's got 24½ career sacks, including a career-best 10½ in 2018, plus three more sacks in the postseason. He's been durable, missing only two games due to injury in his career. And he's been a workhorse when needed, playing more than 1,500 snaps over the past two years.

"Learn the system," Montgomery said earlier this spring regarding what matters most for a new arrival like Reed. "Learn how we play blocks, learn how we rush the quarterback, learn how we need to be all on the same page."

Reed doesn't see that being a problem. He's become fast friends with Clark, whom he considers a kindred spirit who's "humble" and likes to "chill."

He's also happy being a sounding board for Wyatt, a high draft pick around whom expectations swirl. Clark was there once, and so was Reed, taken in the second round in 2016 by the Seahawks and joining a highly touted unit that included Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark up front.

"He's young, he's still learning," Reed said of Wyatt. "But he's learning fast."

Reed knows plenty about the situation he's walking into. The Packers' defense has been on the rise for a few years now, and it's coming off a dominant playoff performance last January against San Francisco.

That trajectory piqued his interest when the Packers called to sign him – "Their previous season speaks for itself," he said – and he's eager to find his place. Having gone to the playoffs five times in his six NFL seasons but never reaching a Super Bowl, and coming to a team that remains a contender with a future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, factored into his thought process as well.

"12's 12. He'll do what he do," Reed said. "It's on us to give him the ball. That's all we're trying to do."

Plus take the next step. Reed reached the divisional round of the playoffs twice with the Seahawks and then got to a conference championship with the Chiefs last year. He's been on the doorstep, just like the Packers – yet another way he seems on the same page with his new teammates.

"I've got plenty left in the tank," he said. "I've got things I want to accomplish myself. Hopefully I can get those things, but overall I want to leave this thing with a Super Bowl ring. That's what we're chasing."

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