The secret is out on Cullen Jenkins. The defensive first-year defensive lineman has been receiving more attention lately from coaches and media alike, and rightfully so. Jenkins, who started training camp as perhaps little more than an afterthought, has quickly made his ascension up the Packers depth chart.
When the Packers open the regular season at Carolina on September 13, Jenkins wants to be on the field just like anyone else, but he does have an added incentive.
His brother Kris Jenkins is a defensive tackle for the Panthers and Cullen would love the opportunity to have bragging rights with a win and a strong performance. Jenkins said facing his brother has been on his mind for a long time.
"It would mean a whole lot to me," Jenkins said. "It's one of those things that I have been looking forward to ever since I found out who the first game was against. It's one of those things where I don't want to come up short, I want to be out there to face him."
Jenkins knows he has some work ahead of him before the first game rolls around and his brother won't let him forget it, either.
"My biggest thing is trying to make the team first - then going out there and beating him," Jenkins explained. "We talk about twice a week. He saw the game Monday night and called and gave me pointers. He told me that I need to keep my pads low, especially down near the goal line, and to move faster out on the field."
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said yesterday that his young lineman has a quick spin move, and although he's never been in favor of that particular move, he admitted that it works for Jenkins. He even went as far to say that the move reminds him of John Randle, the former defensive tackle that had 137.5 sacks in his career with Minnesota and Seattle.
Those comparisons didn't mean a whole lot to Jenkins, though.
"To be honest, I don't know who John Randle is," Jenkins said. "It's just one of those things that comes pretty natural to me. I think it's one of my best moves. Its one of those things you can't use too much, you can only pull it out in certain situations, but I think it's effective."
He may not know who Randle is, but if his level of play keeps rising, more people will know who Cullen Jenkins is.
Offensive tackle Brennan Curtin hadn't played a single snap in a training camp practice until yesterday. The second-year man out of Notre Dame returned to the field Wednesday, and now that he is healthy, he's happy to be back. He said he's not as far behind as one might think.
"Being at the minicamps definitely helped a lot coming in," Curtin said. "Basically I have pretty good knowledge of the playbook, although there are minor details I've had to brush up on and get used to again. Other than that, it's not like starting from ground zero.
"I have been able to stay up to speed by attending meetings and working out at a local gym around town. It was a tough situation because I wasn't able to be around the team other than meetings."
Curtin said that although he had to sit out of practice, he never stopped studying the plays.
"At least I was able to attend all the meetings and that's a big part," Curtin said. "The mental part is the biggest thing. The physical part will come again in a couple of days. The reaction time and getting through the hitting and the first wave of soreness will come."
The 6-foot-9 tackle, who is the tallest player ever drafted by the Packers, admitted that the injury was difficult to deal with but it did have one bright spot.
"The advantage that I am trying to cling to is that I have fresh legs," Curtin said. "The disadvantage is the rustiness that I am trying to knock off. But I think I am getting it out today. Yesterday I was out here just trying to see if I could do it, and today was more of just trying to fine tune it."
Sherman said he was surprised at the way Curtin has been able to jump back in.
"I was impressed with how quickly he was able to get back into it," said Sherman. "It seems like at this point he is doing fine. He needs to catch up, but he's not as behind as much as I thought he would be. I would anticipate him to play on Saturday."
When Will Wahle Return?
Like Curtin, guard Mike Wahle has also been out since the beginning of training camp with a knee contusion, but hopes to make it back soon.
"It's coming along pretty well," Wahle said. "I feel like I'm at the point where I can start practicing soon, and hopefully the doctors agree. A bone bruise is one of those things that heals gradually and you can't really speed it up with medicine. We've had to back off on it and take it easy.
"The biggest thing with a bone bruise is you don't want it to keep reoccurring throughout the season. It's one of those situations where I could play this week if it was a championship game, but I don't want it to hamper my performance throughout the season and hurt my ability to help the team."
Wahle said his injury was just bad luck.
"I bruised my knee right on the joint, my femur," Wahle explained. "It was a freak accident. Any time you put pressure on the knee, you have an opportunity to injure yourself, apparently. The doctors said it was a freak thing."
Still, freak injury or not, Wahle said his time away has been disappointing.
"I've lost my cool more than once just because this is the first time I have missed practice and it's driving me nuts," Wahle said. "When you're watching film at night and you're not on it, it drives you insane. Not being out here with the guys joking around, competing and things like that....it's very frustrating.
"I would like to come back next week, but we'll see what happens. Things are looking pretty positive."
If anybody can relate to what Wahle is going through it's his linemate, center Mike Flanagan, who is out with knee tendinitis. He said the injuries have been difficult for both of them to deal with.
"Wahle's my roommate," Flanagan said. "We're out rehabbing, doing stuff every day. Eventually we'll probably kill each other because we spend so much time together. You can only watch so much practice. It does get a little frustrating because you want to be out here with the boys, but you have to do what you have to do."
Right now, resting is what the two starting lineman have to do. When the time comes, they will be back where they belong, mixing things up in the trenches.
Driving For Better Results
The fashion in which the Packers were beaten against the Seahawks, and how last season ended for that matter, doesn't sit well with Donald Driver. The Packers wide receiver said that his team is capable of better results and now is the time to show it.
"It's preseason, but we have to win enough games regardless of the situation," Driver said. "We need to start where we left off last season and that means starting with Carolina and going through the season.
"We have to make sure we start off the way we did last week. I think guys now are hungry that we go down on the first drive and put it in the end zone and don't settle for a field goal when we play the Saints.
Driver admits the Packers have some unfinished business to take care of.
"We left something out there," he said. "We know we are supposed to be in the Big Show (Super Bowl). If not in the Show, than in the NFC Championship game. So our goal is nothing less than a Super Bowl this year."