Addition of Muhammad Wilkerson makes a solid unit stronger
GREEN BAY – Had everything remained the same with the Packers’ defensive line from the end of last season until now, the team would have felt pretty Men’s Majestic Flexbase Authentic 55 Russell Martin Toronto Blue Jays Canada Day Red Jersey good about the unit.
“We can be dominant, man,” Clark said after a recent OTA practice. “We can be dominant. We’ve just got to put in the work and play ball like we know how. A lot of us, we’ve played at a high level.”
That certainly includes Wilkerson, the Jets’ 2011 Kevin Pillar Canada Day Jersey first-round draft pick who made the Pro Bowl as recently as 2015, when he posted double-digit sacks for the second time in his career. He had a personal-best 12 that season.
His numbers fell off the last two years and led to his release from a big-money deal with the Jets, so he signed with Green Bay as a free agent motivated to revive his career.
Coming to the Packers also reunites him with the defensive coordinator from his New York days, Mike Pettine, who has taken over Green Bay’s defense.
Wilkerson downplayed his rol Blue Jays Canada Day Jersey e in helping his fellow D-linemen learn Pettine’s scheme, pointing out he has some new terminology to get down himself. But his knowledge does provide assistance, particularly with some of the smaller details that aren’t necessarily spelled out in the playbook.
“We lean on him a lot,” Clark said. “He remembered most of the calls that Coach Mike was calling. Our stunts and things like that, he basically gave the rundown of how he wants it done and the angle and all that type of stuff. Coach Jerry (Montgomery) and Mo have been helping us out with that a lot.”
As for the secret to Pettine’s defense, which has a strong track record, Wilkerson keeps it simple.
“He probably has a better answer for you,” he said. “But it’s all about 11 guys making plays, knowing their job and just doing their assignment.”
Wilkerson’s understated ways are in contrast to the other New Jersey native on the unit. Daniels, drafted one year later in 2012, is as loud as Wilkerson is quiet, making the veterans a curious pairing. As a side note, Wilkerson was a college teammate of Daniels’ brother, Sean, at Temple.
But different personalities line up alongside one another all the time, and Wilkerson appears to have no reservations about how he’ll fit in.
“Amongst each other, we’re brothers and we want to compete, but at the same time, come game day, it’s us against our opponents,” he said. “We’re always going to push each other to be the best out there.”
With the Packers potentially counting on multiple rookies and second-year defensive backs to play significant roles, and with a young, unproven edge-rush rotation behind
The interior pass rush it can provide could be a huge key to improving Green Bay’s 28th-ranked third-down defense from a year ago.
Daniels has recorded at least four sacks each of the last five years. Clark’s 4½ sacks last season came in a span of just five games, and he felt “there’s some stuff that I left out there.” Wilkerson tops the group by a longshot with 44½ career sacks.
As much as his fellow linemen are leaning on Wilkerson to absorb Pettine’s scheme, the entire defense will be leaning on the group up front to set the tone for 2018.
“Now, it’s putting in the work and getting in tune together,” Clark said. “You’ll see how dominant our defensive line can be.”