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Training Camp Report: Jenkins Picks Up Where He Left Off

Defensive end Cullen Jenkins was off to perhaps the best start of his career last year before a pectoral injury cut short his season in Week 4, and he looks to carry that over into 2009 as he and the rest of the defense make the adjustment to the new 3-4 scheme. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 1


Defensive end Cullen Jenkins was off to perhaps the best start of his career last year before a pectoral injury cut short his season in Week 4, and he looks to carry that over into 2009 as he and the rest of the defense make the adjustment to the new 3-4 scheme.

Jenkins, who was limited throughout the offseason to the jog-through portions of workouts, participated fully Saturday in the opening training camp practice at right defensive end with the No. 1 unit, and made his presence felt right away.

"He was in our backfield a bunch on offense, so Cullen doesn't look like he has missed a beat," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's good to have him back. He looked good today."

In the first four games of 2008, Jenkins posted 18 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks before seeing his season come to an end at Tampa Bay in the fourth quarter when he tore a pectoral muscle attempting to bring down quarterback Brian Griese for a sack. Jenkins was placed on injured reserve Oct. 1 and had surgery the next day. He also underwent offseason ankle surgery.

"It was an unfortunate incident, but you just try to look at it as what positive could I take from it or how could I improve from the situation," Jenkins said. "I just tried to get a little stronger and maybe change some habits, flexibility, strength, just look at things like that.

"I feel like I have my quickness. I've been working out earlier in the summer and I had my trainer with me. I felt quick. I'd say the only thing I need to improve on right now would be my flexibility. I feel good, but you've got to convert that to the game situations."

Jenkins will be taking on a slightly different role in the 3-4, with defensive ends called upon more to take on blocks to allow the linebackers to be the play-makers.

"In some of the situations it becomes less of an attack-type mode, and you have to be smart and make sure you are playing your responsibility for the rest of the defense," Jenkins said. "At other times you get to go back into the attack mode."

A room to himself

For the first time in his career, veteran left tackle Chad Clifton won't have fellow tackle Mark Tauscher alongside him in training camp.

For Clifton, he is not only missing the teammate who played on the same line with him for the past nine seasons, but also his roommate during camp at the dormitory at St. Norbert as Clifton now has his own room.

"It's a little different," Clifton said. "One of the benefits of not having him here is I don't have to hear the snoring every single night."

Clifton had four surgeries this offseason, undergoing what he termed "cleanup" arthroscopic procedures on both knees and both shoulders. He will practice just once a day throughout training camp when the team has two-a-days, which has been his schedule for several seasons.

"My shoulders were a real issue last year, and they bothered me throughout the season," Clifton said. "My punch is back, so it feels great. No issues. The knees felt good today, so those are all positives.

"The conditioning is not there yet, but it will come though over the next couple of weeks."

New field

The Packers formally dedicated the new Ray Nitschke Field Saturday at a ceremony prior to Saturday's practice.

Amy Nitschke, daughter of the late Ray Nitschke, was on hand, along with her three children, Jackie, 12, Anna, 9, and Nathan, 7. Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy presented Amy a crystal plaque that commemorated the day and also spoke on behalf of the Packers and thanked the many people involved in the project. The Nitschkes then officially opened the new stadium with a cutting of a gold ribbon. Jackie did the honors while her mom and siblings held the ribbon.

For Nitschke, the moment was something she and her children will never forget.

"It was wonderful for Ray's grandchildren, who didn't get a chance to know him, to see what Ray meant to the Packers and the community," she said. "It really was a complete honor to be a part of it. It meant so much to Ray to be remembered and loved by the Packers, the community and the fans. For people to be able to watch the Packers in this facility as his namesake is special.

"The Packers organization has done an amazing job with everything they do for the fans. We were honored and blessed that our family could be a part of it."

Attendance for Saturday's practice was approximately 2,100, with the bleachers filled and several hundred more fans lined up along the fences on either end of the facility.

"I think it's more personal for the fans," center Scott Wells said. "I think it's more welcoming for them. I honestly feel like they're more involved because they actually are sitting there like it's kind of a mini-game. I like it."

{sportsad300}A trying time

For the second straight year, linebacker Aaron Kampman was forced to deal with adversity during the offseason.

In May 2008, Kampman's hometown of Parkersburg, Iowa, was devastated by a tornado. This June, his high school football coach, Ed Thomas, was tragically murdered in the school's weight room by a former student who played for Thomas.

"It's been tough, but it's actually been quite incredibly inspiring as well," Kampman said. "There are some tremendous stories that have come from Coach Thomas' death, celebrating his life.

"An amazing community and an amazing family. Yeah, pretty special people back there."

Plays of the day

During team (11-on-11) work, wide receiver James Jones made the offense's biggest play, hauling in a deep ball down the left side from Rodgers. Jones got behind cornerback Al Harris, and safety Nick Collins was a touch late getting over to help.

Near the end of practice in the final team drill, cornerback Tramon Williams snagged an easy interception and potential long runback when wide receiver Brett Swain cut inside and Rodgers threw the out route. The big hit of the day went to Collins, who dropped his shoulder pads on unsuspecting running back DeShawn Wynn, knocking Wynn off his feet on a downfield run.

Injury/participation update

Linebackers Nick Barnett (knee) and Brad Jones (back) are both on the physically unable to perform list and did not practice.

Rookie nose tackle B.J. Raji was not at practice since he has not signed with the team yet.

With Barnett and Raji missing from the No. 1 defense, Johnny Jolly worked at left defensive end and Brandon Chillar opened at the starting "Mack" linebacker spot in Barnett's place.

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