Position preview: Defensive line

Jackson, Hunt leave line in limbo

In Jim Bates' system, the defensive tackles will be categorized as left and right rather than nose tackle and three-technique tackle. The coaches used the five tackles on both sides during the off-season minicamps, and will do much of the same early in training camp to determine the best positions for each player.

But the Packers may be without two of their starters for a while, Grady Jackson and Cletidus Hunt.

Jackson did not participate in the off-season minicamps because of off-season knee surgery. He has said that he will not report to training camp unless the Packers renegotiate his contract, or trade him.

Tackle Cletidus Hunt was forced to watch from the sideline in the April minicamp because of an injured hamstring. He then skipped the June minicamp and it is uncertain if he will report to the start of training camp.

Two second-year players, Donnell Washington and Corey Williams, spent most of the time with the No. 1 defense and are the likely starters if Jackson and Hunt fail sit out in contract disputes. An in-shape James Lee and 320-pound Colin Cole are the top backups heading into camp.

"The guys that have been here will flat out work," D-tackle coach Robert Nunn said. "Lee, Cole, Washington and Williams. We have worked their tails off and they have responded well. I would love to see him (Hunt) at the tempo we're working at and see how he responds to it."

With 36-inch arms and his weight under control, Washington should be a factor in his second season, according to coach Mike Sherman.

Williams checked in at 314 and moved pretty well, too. For the most part, Bates used Aaron Kampman, Kenny Peterson and rookie Mike Montgomery (sixth round) at left end and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Cullen Jenkins and R-Kal Truluck at right end in the June minicamp.

"All of the ends can play in the National Football League," Bates said. "Kampman and Kabeer both had real good camps. We've got to see Peterson in pads but (his) footwork and athleticism, yes. There will be competition."

Jenkins played tackle at 300 in '04 but is down to 295 and hopes to reach 285-290 in order to play end in the base defense, which he did at Central Michigan.

"I don't know why he can't (play end)," defensive line coach Bob Sanders said. "He's very quick."

"KGB", who said the lowest that he ever played in Green Bay was 238, reported at 249. Bates has said that Miami right end Jason Taylor played for him at 243.

Projected starters: Aaron Kampman (LDE), Grady Jackson (DT), Cletidus Hunt (DT), Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (RDE)
This could change if Jackson decides to hold out in a contract dispute. Hunt is expected to report to training camp, but it would be no surprise if he didn't. Kampman and Gbaja-Biamila are the starters, though, the Packers would be better served if they could use KGB only in pass-rushing situations.

Projected reserves: Kenny Peterson (LDE), Donnell Washington (DT), Cullen Jenkins (DT), Mike Montgomery (RDE), James Lee (DT), Corey Williams (DT)
Keep an eye on Williams and Washington. Both of those players could end up in the starting lineup, especially if Jackson decides to sit out the season. Hunt is listed as a starter but that is very tentative because of Williams. Jenkins and Peterson are expected to play more at end this season and inside in pass-rushing situations. Lee has to avoid injury in training camp in order to make the roster. Montgomery missed the June minicamp with a broken thumb. He's a project.

On the bubble: R-Kal Truluck (DE), Colin Cole (DT), A.J. Lindsay (DT), Seante Williams (DE)
Cole has a good chance to make the roster, but he will have to beat out Lee. If Hunt is released, Cole definitely will make the team. Truluck didn't do much for the Packers last season. He is insurance if one of the younger ends is seriously injured in camp.

Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

Packer Report Top Stories