Opportunity knocks for young DTs

Opportunity is knocking for a trio of young defensive tackles, thanks to defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt's absence.

Already a disappointment, Hunt hasn't made up any ground by going AWOL. That makes the possibility of moving up very real for those waiting in the wings.

Cullen Jenkins is first in line. A stint in NFL Europe in 2004 helped him secure a roster spot last year after he fell short in 2003. Jenkins jumped on that opportunity early, shining in training camp. He went on to play in every game, making six starts. The 24-year-old Jenkins could be considered the heir apparent as he was given the nod over Hunt in the regular season finale at Chicago last year.

Versatility has been Jenkins' calling card. The second-year pro out of Central Michigan can play any position across the line. In a defense admittedly lacking in pass rush, Jenkins stepped up to rank second on the team in sacks (tied with Aaron Kampman at 4.5) despite limited playing time.

Two other young players are waiting in the wings. Both second-year pros, Donnell Washington and Corey Williams have taken part in the Packers' off-season workout program and opportunity session practices.

Williams was the team's sixth-round draft pick in 2004 out of Arkansas State. Like Jenkins, Williams demonstrated his adaptability last season. During the course of his rookie season, Williams served as a backup to Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila at elephant defensive end and to Kampman at power defensive end in addition to a stint at Hunt's eagle position. Playing as a reserve in 12 games and the wild card playoff, Williams tallied 24 tackles including a sack and a forced fumble and was a special teams contributor.

The chance to shine in the first day of outdoor practice Wednesday included a dark cloud for Williams. He suffered a hip injury during practice and was carted off the field, but coach Mike Sherman said the injury is not serious.

Washington may have a better pedigree as a third-round pick out of Clemson in 2004, but has more to prove. He was sidelined for his entire rookie campaign after suffering a foot injury during training camp. In Washington's favor is his size at 6-6, 323.


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