Defensive line still a mystery

Are the Packers really content with thinnest position on team?

Fortunately for the Green Bay Packers, the regular season doesn't start for another nine days. If it did start tomorrow, Green Bay would be in a heap of trouble along their defensive line.

The Packers released three defensive tackles amid an already thin position today. They included Daniel Muir, Conrad Bolston and Alfred Malone. Many experts felt that one of the three would make the team, especially with Ryan Pickett coming off a hamstring injury that kept him out the team's entire training camp.

There is little doubt among Packer Report scribes that general manager Ted Thompson will pluck a defensive tackle from the best of others released today around the NFL.

Look for Thompson to possibly go after nose tackle Junior Siavii, who was released by the Dallas Cowboys. The Packers showed a strong interest in him a few years ago in the NFL draft as the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Samoan finished up at the University of Oregon.

If the Packers learned anything this preseason, it's that they miss Pickett occupying a pair of blockers while others spin off their single-man blocks en route to the ball or quarterback. Big guys who play low to the ground like Pickett are tough to find, but maybe Thompson can unearth one in this weekend's league-wide clearance sale.

Other defensive tackles released today and the teams they were with include Scott Paxson (Steelers), Ogemdi Nwagbuo and Jeremy Clark (Giants), Antonio Johnson (Titans), Steven Harris (Broncos) and Montavious Stanley (Falcons).

As it stands, the Packers have three defensive tackles - Pickett, Johnny Jolly and Colin Cole - and a fourth on passing downs, Cullen Jenkins. Justin Harrell was placed on the physically unable to perform list earlier this week with a back injury and will not be eligible to return until after the first six weeks of the regular season.

It is possible that Green Bay may try to get by with using Jenkins more at defensive tackle, but that seems unlikely because of the injury situation in training camp. Besides Pickett nursing a sore hamstring, pass-rushing defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila missed most of training camp recovering from a May knee surgery. Green Bay will need him to be at his best in pass situations. Also, there is a chance that Jolly will get suspended by the NFL for up to four games after he violated the league's substance abuse policy in July.

Another option that the Packers may pursue is using Mike Montgomery more as a defensive tackle. He has played mainly defensive end in pass rush situations for the Packers the past two seasons, but was used at defensive tackle, at times, in practice and games this preseason. It is possible that the Packers liked what they saw of him on the inside and feel comfortable about his versatility.

In any case, look for the Packers to be announcing some more moves within the next couple of days, including at defensive tackle.

Todd Korth writes for and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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