Washington Eager To Get Back On Field

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The second of three third-round selections in last year's draft, Donnell Washington possessed too much raw athleticism for the Packers to pass up, prompting the Green and Gold to trade up 14 spots to draft him just two picks behind cornerback Joey Thomas.

Unfortunately, the 6-foot-5, 323-pound defensive tackle never had the chance to show off the skills that earned him second-team All-ACC honors prior to skipping his senior season at Clemson. Just one week into training camp, Washington was sidelined with a foot/arch injury and was placed on injured reserve Sept. 1.

Now, with several months of rehab behind him and the first of two mini-camps on the horizon, Washington is looking forward to a fresh start and is using last season's disappointment as his primary motivating factor.

"I was very frustrated and felt like I let the whole organization down," Washington said. "I felt like they had a whole lot riding on me by drafting me and all offseason that just stuck in my mind. That's what I thought about and that was what was motivating me to keep working out everyday."

At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last year, Washington piqued the Packers' interest with his explosiveness and quick feet, running the 40-yard dash in 5.02 seconds, lifting 225 pounds 34 times and possessing an arm span of 36-inches.

"I'm a physical player and I feel I run well at times," Washington said. "As far as a pass rusher, I think I move well and I have the skill and ability to get on the edge and be productive, getting sacks and tackles for loss."

In Washington, the Packers know they don't yet have a finished product. But the addition of new defensive coordinator Jim Bates, who brought defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn with him from Miami, has both parties excited about the potential and depth the Packers have along the defensive line, something Washington hopes to contribute to beginning with this week's mini-camp.

"I've never been in a situation where we had as much depth in the 15 years that I've been in the league," Bates said, referring to veteran interior linemen Grady Jackson and Cletidus Hunt, and backups Cullen Jenkins, James Lee, Kenny Peterson and Washington.

"Coach Bates' (4-3 defense) will be an advantage to me," Washington said. "I have long arms and with the system that they have it's going to be to my advantage. I'm just taking it day by day and just working on the fundamentals and techniques and once I learn that, the rest will come."

Washington, who thus far has spent the entire offseason working out in Green Bay, says that meetings with both Coach Sherman and Coach Bates re-instilled the confidence he needed heading into mini-camp.

"They called me in and told me what they expected of me this year," Washington said, "so I know what's at stake for me right now and what they're looking for. I'm ready to get back out on the field and to have the opportunity to show them both what I can do."

Washington and his Packers teammates will take to the practice field beginning Wednesday. Rookies will join the veterans on the field Friday.

Here's a look at the practice schedule:

Wednesday, April 27

11:00 a.m. (veterans)

Thursday, April 28

11:00 a.m. (veterans)

Friday, April 29

10:30 a.m. (veterans and rookies)

2:45 p.m. (veterans and rookies)

Saturday, April 30

10:30 a.m. (veterans and rookies)

2:45 p.m. (veterans and rookies)

Sunday, May 1

9:30 a.m. (rookies and selected veterans)

* All practices are scheduled to be held at Ray Nitschke Field (open to public), unless inclement weather or poor field conditions require practices to be moved inside the Don Huston Center (closed to public).

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