And for a Green Bay Packers defense that lost ace rusher Cullen Jenkins during free agency, Wynn potentially will play a big role in the Super Bowl champions' title defense.
"B.J. (Raji) and (Wynn) are pass-rush junkies," defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said after Wednesday's practice. "Believe me, I can't get them enough tape. They love watching Bruce Smith, they love watching Richard Dent, they love watching John Randall (and Warren Sapp). Of course, they watch all the guys that are still playing but they even want me to go back further. I'm always cutting up tapes for them."
It looks like the extra study and a productive offseason are paying dividends. During the span of three plays during an 11-on-11 period on Tuesday night, Wynn was a one-man wrecking crew. He sacked Graham Harrell, blew threw a double team to pressure Harrell, then dropped running back Brandon Saine in the backfield for a 4-yard loss. It was more of the same on Wednesday night, when he sacked Harrell to help thwart a two-minute drill.
Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire
"I feel like there's a big chance that I can be part of the solution," Wynn said. "I've learned from different guys, like B.J. – he's one of the best pass rushers that we've got. Me and him watch film together. Cullen was great here in getting to the quarterback. I learned a lot from him, also. It's time to step up to the plate. My chance is here, so I'm going to take full advantage of it."
Along with his film study, Wynn worked extensively with Chuck Smith, who is the Atlanta Falcons' career leader in sacks, during the offseason. They worked on Wynn's footwork and explosion at the snap. The payoff has been evident on the practice field, with Wynn's quickness and power on display during the daily one-on-one drills.
All of this is coming from a player who, after a promising rookie season as a sixth-round pick in 2009, was beaten out of a roster spot by 2010 seventh-rounder C.J. Wilson. Wynn wasn't gone for long, though, as he was brought back after Justin Harrell tore his ACL during the opener at Philadelphia.
"He's matured," Trgovac said. "I thought last year, and I had this talk with him, I thought he started training camp slow. He picked it up a little but just got caught up in a numbers game. He's seeing plays so much faster this year and that comes with experience. He's been studying his butt off. He's done a lot of extra film work on his own, and it's paying off out here."
The payoff actually began last season. His late sack of Brett Favre helped hold off the Vikings in the Oct. 24 game at Lambeau Field. He also combined with A.J. Hawk to drop Jay Cutler in the must-win season finale against Chicago. He played in three of the four playoff games, including the Super Bowl, after his son, Jarius Jr., was born the morning of the game.
"It's truly a blessing," Wynn said, reflecting on last year. "It was hard to grasp and you never want to be put in that situation again."
Now, Wynn must show that his exploits on the practice field carry over to game days. Other than Raji and, to a lesser extent, Mike Neal, Wynn has been the only defensive lineman to consistently pressure the passer. If that ability shows up on Saturday night at Cleveland and through the rest of the preseason, Wynn will have put himself in position to be a major factor on defense.
"He's certainly going to get his opportunity," Trgovac said. "He's proven out there that he can help us in that area. We'll see in the games."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.