Defensive tackle stands out among longshots

Keep an eye on Cullen Jenkins, number 77 for the Green Bay Packers. His brother Kris, a Pro Bowl defensive tackle with the Carolina Panthers, also number 77, certainly has been doing that this summer. Cullen Jenkins is a longshot to make the Green Bay Packers 53-man roster, but his play thus far in camp has been increasing his chances.<p>

Jenkins is trying to make the Packers roster for the second straight season. He tried out for the team last year and was released in the team's cutdown to 65 players. Jenkins fell short. The 6-foot-3, 292-pound lineman was out of gas after getting off to a good start in camp.

This year, despite playing in NFL Europe, Jenkins is off to another good start in camp. The Packers' coaching staff has noticed and has promoted him to the second-team defense at tackle. Unlike last year, Jenkins is more confident thanks to his experience in Europe, and not about to let an opportunity to make the final roster slip away because of fatigue. Hitting the wall is just another obstacle that Jenkins is determined to break through.

"The biggest way I can avoid it is by remembering it, by keeping it fresh in my mind what happened last year," Jenkins said. "As long as I keep that in my mind, I'll try my hardest not to let it happen again." Thus far, Jenkins has only improved his chances of making the team. Jenkins led the Packers with six tackles and one sack in Green Bay's exhibition opener Monday night against Seattle. He hustled on every play, and stood out among the many free agents trying to make Green Bay's roster.

"I told the team the night before the game that someone playing in the fourth quarter is going to have a chance to make our team if they can play hard in the fourth quarter and continue to exhibit that every week," Packers coach Mike Sherman said. "Cullen Jenkins may be that player because he gives great effort. He's very powerful. Had a nice sack (against Seahawks). Chases the ball real hard. He has a shot. He came in as a longshot, but it's not quite as long as it used to be."

Jenkins was re-signed by the Packers as a free agent on Jan. 16 of this year. He was allocated to the Cologne Centurions for the 2004 NFL Europe season and started all 10 games. He finished with 24 tackles (12 solo) with 1 1/2 sacks and seven quarterback pressures, adding one pass defensed.

He said playing in NFL-E has made a big difference.

"I'm a lot more relaxed and focused on my technique and what I've got to do out there," Jenkins said.

If all goes well and Jenkins makes the team, he will have something to talk about the next time his brother, Kris, calls. Kris Jenkins, selected in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft by Carolina, is entering his fourth season in the NFL. He was a Pro Bowl selection for the second consecutive season in 2003, his first as a starter, after appearing as an alternate in 2002.

"We talk but it's a one-way talk right now," Cullen Jenkins said. "He talks trash, but I can't really say anything till I make the team. I have to make the team first, then worry about going out there and beating 'em."

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