Tough love? Kenny Clark can take it

Packers' veteran D-lineman Mike Daniels conveying urgency to first-round rookie


GREEN BAY – Rookie Kenny Clark should be ready to play in Week 1.

Fellow Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels plans to make sure of it.

In Tuesday's first practice of training camp, Daniels could be seen – and certainly heard – getting on Clark for messing up in an 11-on-11 period. There was no first-day grace period for the first-round draft pick from UCLA.

Discussing it after practice on Wednesday, Clark sounded like a player who wouldn't have it any other way. He not only wants to earn the veterans' respect, but he understands how important it is that he be all systems go when the first regular-season game rolls around.

"Just from yesterday, I get that sense," Clark said. "They're not putting any kind of pressure on me, they're just making sure that, 'You need to be solid. We want you to be good.'

"I'm taking all that in, and I'm excited for it. I've been around people like that all my life, been around hard coaching all my life, so I love it. I'm only going to get better."

The urgency comes from the defensive line's need to replace B.J. Raji, and from the four-game suspension for third-year pro Mike Pennel to start the season.

Clark, fourth-round pick Dean Lowry, practice-squad holdover Christian Ringo, and anyone else that can help in Week 1 will be needed. With Datone Jones now working more with the outside linebackers, Daniels and Letroy Guion are the Packers' only pure down linemen with NFL experience.

Daniels' outburst was a loud reminder that every practice matters for the unit to develop as quickly as it must.

"Sometimes you need to do that," Daniels said. "With a guy like (Clark), I didn't even have to do it. He's already humming, but still, it's my duty to set the tone.

"Every day is important. We need you to be a vet … in about three weeks."

By the end of Tuesday's practice, the defensive line was celebrating a few dominant reps by Clark. The rookie views consistency as his primary goal in training camp, so his teammates and coaches know they can count on him.

If that means taking an earful from Daniels or Guion once in a while, so be it.

"He was just being Mike Daniels and got fired up, and he got me going," Clark said.

"Those guys are doing everything in their power to make sure I'm straight, make sure I'm doing my job. We have to count on everybody. They don't want anybody slacking, and they want everybody to be on the same page."

It's only been two non-padded practices and a few head-to-head snaps, but Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton is impressed with what he's seen from Clark so far. The two may have more one-on-one battles in pass-rush drills later in camp, but Sitton already knows he won't feel like he's facing a 20-year-old rookie during those reps.

"I would say the way he's able to use his hands already, he seems a little older, more mature I guess," Sitton said. "A lot of young guys kind of just play into you and don't really keep using their hands, and that's something I've noticed over the two days. He's really good with his hands."

Beginning Thursday morning, Clark will start to show what he brings in full pads. He can't wait.

Neither can Daniels.

"Tomorrow," he said, "we're really going to see what these guys are made of."

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