Defense develops swagger

While Green Bay's No. 1 offense started to exhibit signs of life Saturday night against Seattle, the defense as a whole is way ahead of the preseason curve.

The Packers' aggressive bunch forced six turnovers and had seven sacks in a 48-13 thrashing of the Seahawks at Lambeau Field.

"I'm not going to jump the gun and try to say we're the best defense in the world, but I think we're going to be something to reckon with," middle linebacker Nick Barnett said.

The Brett Favre-directed offense, which was significantly better than its poor showing in the first preseason game, staked Green Bay to an early 17-3 lead.

An opportunistic defense then took matters into its own hands. Barnett (62 yards) and linebacker Tracy White (34 yards) scored in the second quarter on fumble returns caused by sacks of Seneca Wallace.

Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and blitzing safety Atari Bigby had the big hits on Wallace, who started in place of Matt Hasselbeck.

"The defense is playing with a lot of confidence," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "It starts up front. They're doing an excellent job of controlling the line of scrimmage. The guys in the back end are just flying around. The communication and the continuity is where it needs to be. I'm excited where we're at on defense."

The Packers have rolled up 12 sacks and seven takeaways in the first two preseason games.

Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders stressed a fast start for the unit this year in hopes of carrying over the strong finish from last season. Green Bay had 13 takeaways to fuel a closing four-game winning streak.

The Packers tied for fifth in the league with 33 takeaways and ascended to 12th for total defense after languishing near the bottom for most of the season.

"It's the second year of having the scheme under our belts and playing together. We're out there jelling," Barnett said. "We still have some things to clean up. (But) I think we're on the right path."

The defense might have to carry the Packers early in the season because Favre has yet to click with a youthful supporting cast, which includes rookies Brandon Jackson at halfback and James Jones at receiver.

Defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins has set the tone in the first half of the preseason. He had two sacks and forced a fumble in the Aug. 11 win at Pittsburgh.

On Saturday, Jenkins sacked Wallace in the first Seattle series and added two tackles for loss.

Jenkins earned a starting job at defensive end ahead of Gbaja-Biamila late in the season last year. He then received a four-year, $16 million contract before he was eligible to become a restricted free agent.

At 6-foot-2, 303 pounds, Jenkins has rare versatility for a lineman. He plays outside on early downs, then moves inside in passing situations.

"He presents a lot of problems to offensive linemen," general manager Ted Thompson said. "He's unique in his physicality and his build and his balance. He's not your classic 6-foot-6 defensive end, but he's tough to handle."

CAMP CALENDAR: Training camp ends Aug. 28. The team finished two-a-days Aug. 16. It broke camp from its accommodations at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., on Aug. 17.

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