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Friday, September 12, 2008 12:19:12 AM(UTC)
[img_r]http://cmsimg.greenbaypressgazette.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=U0&Date=20080911&Category=PKR01&ArtNo=80911108&Ref=AR&Profile=1058&MaxW=318&Border=0[/img_r]This is the new Cullen Jenkins, or at least everyone hopes it is.
The Cullen Jenkins who understands the importance of taking care of his body.
The Cullen Jenkins who stays focused on his technique.
The Cullen Jenkins who can be as disruptive every week as he was in the Green Bay Packers season-opening win over Minnesota on Monday.
Everyone is quick to point out it was only one game. But it was the type of performance the Packers expected when they signed Jenkins to a four-year, $15.84 million deal in February 2007 and rarely got last fall as Jenkins body failed him and his frustration mounted.
Its kind of hard to sit there and just keep complaining or whining about injuries, Jenkins said this week, because at the end of the season, when people look at the stats, theres not an asterisk by it that says you were injured or playing hurt.
Thats why he focused his offseason on improving his speed, quickness and flexibility. Why hes dropped 10 pounds since the start of training camp and is keeping his weight in the prescribed area of 300 to 305. Why he recommitted himself in the weight room and spent a week in mid-July with a personal trainer so he could report to training camp in better shape.
It all paid off when he split 64 snaps between right end and defensive tackle on Monday a total Jenkins admits would have affected his performance if he hadnt dropped the extra weight and earned the defensive game ball in a performance coach Mike McCarthy called outstanding.
Whether he was beating Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson with an inside speed move, staying at home on a play-action bootleg to force an incompletion or overpowering left tackle Marcus Johnson on a bull rush, Jenkins looked like a different player than he was most of last season.
I thought he had a very good start, defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn said. Weve just got to keep him healthy. Thats the thing that last year he flashed some things in preseason but couldnt maintain it because of his nagging injuries.
He had all sorts of them: wrist and ribs in September, knee and ankle in October, the other knee in November. After recording three sacks in the preseason, he had only one in the regular season, a career low.
Jenkins nearly equaled that total on one of his four pressures in Mondays game, but quarterback Tarvaris Jackson slipped out of his grasp.
I dont know if people are used to me coming off as fast as I come off, said Jenkins, who moves inside to make room for Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on most passing downs. Last year, I didnt feel this fast.
Jenkins never has been handed anything in the NFL. Undrafted out of Central Michigan in 2003, he was cut by the Packers as a rookie and spent a summer in NFL Europe before becoming a contributor in 2004.
But it took a letdown on the heels of his big contract for Jenkins to realize he needed to work harder. He credits improved focus in the weight room for not only maintaining his strength, but his improved speed and quickness, too.
The thing about Cullen this past year is that his efforts been much more consistent, strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson said. Hes very gifted and hes very talented. He is working hard to become better at the preparation phase.
Cullen is quite a personality, and hes one of those guys that, as he looks at the workout sometimes, he needs to be talked into it a little bit. Its been kind of a group effort here to get him more involved and get him working at a little higher level, but certainly, its his input thats most important.
Jenkins attended the entire offseason strength and conditioning program, then took his regimen to another level by hiring Atlanta-based trainer Eric Lucas to come to Michigan two weeks before training camp. Lucas designed a workout to help Jenkins become faster off the ball, mostly using bungee cords and other resistance equipment. Jenkins felt the results were evident on Monday.
It was a few plays where I just felt real quick, said Jenkins, who continues to get in full workouts with Gullickson twice a week after practice. I was able to stay with the tight ends a lot and close gaps, or on some of the pass-rush plays, get good penetration.
Can he keep it up?
Thats where the new Cullen Jenkins has something to prove.
This things a marathon and not a sprint, Nunn said. Hes got to continue to take care of his body which he has. And then the other thing I would say is just staying focused on his technique. He tends to drift a little bit with that and lose focus a little bit on just the small things.
If he does that, I think Nunn caught himself and paused like I said, I dont want to (overstate it). Its one game, but hes definitely off to a good start.
Friday, September 12, 2008 7:34:01 AM(UTC)
This is all good news. It would be huge for our defense for Jenkins to play like he did in '06. I hope they don't wear him out, though. I'm leery of this shorter D-line rotation. I thought they would keep Muir on the roster. Harrell won't be back till week 7 at the earliest.
Friday, September 12, 2008 3:14:31 PM(UTC)
The guy was awesome Monday Night. We really need the DL guys to step up and Jackson was lucky he's nimble because he nearly got killed out there.
I think there will be several meetings with Kitna in the backfield Sunday. He's going to be dogged all day and he don't have Jacksons feet.
I think Jenkins gets at least one this week.
Friday, September 12, 2008 3:15:38 PM(UTC)
I didn't see the game, didn't notice him in the highlights, but it sounds like he had a great game. I hope he'll have a good game against the Lions too, a game I'll be watching.
Friday, September 12, 2008 4:24:47 PM(UTC)
i agree he will help big time with kgb
Friday, September 12, 2008 6:55:25 PM(UTC)
Agree he was awesome. I think he almost got Tarvaris more than once.
Last year, I predicted he'd make the Pro Bowl, but as the article said, it was injury after injury. Kept getting bit by the injury bug.
This year, I'm glad Rock's been working so hard with him. Ten pounds lighter, so ten pounds faster, and not losing any strength. I like that. Can't wait to see what he can do in the other 15 games then the Playoffs.
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