When I saw him get hurt my first thought was that there is no one like DE Cullen Jenkins on the roster. He's irreplaceable. Now he's gone for the season. Obviously DE Aaron Kampman is the best defensive lineman and pass rusher on the team, but no one else besides Jenkins brings an inside pass rush.
It didn't look like he should have been hurt on the play. He just missed a sack of QB Brian Griese and was lunging to tackle him. Griese side stepped out of the way, and Jenkins just fell to the ground. He wasn't hit, but obviously no one has to be hit to have a serious injury. And tear a pectoral muscle.
Who's going to try and replace him?
- Mike Montgomery. The former 6th round pick has played almost exclusively at defensive end in his first three seasons, but he's bulked up to 273 lbs. and is now listed as a defensive tackle. He still plays at defensive end, but he's also played alongside Jenkins at tackle on passing downs. He might show more promise given more playing time, but he's only had 2.5 sacks in his 4 year career.
Jeremy Thompson. The rookie 4th round pick has been inactive for the first four games this season, but remains a notable as the only player GM Ted Thompson has ever traded up for in the draft. At 270 lbs. he's another big defensive end and it might get confusing trying to tell the difference between #99 Thompson and #96 Montgomery. They are very similar players; stout run defenders but provides little pass rush. Thompson started to show some promise at the end of the preseason.
- Justin Harrell. He's not the same type of player as Jenkins. He's a big body and more like DTs Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett. Unfortunately he's always hurt, and is currently unavailable for the next two games. Will he even return at all this season?
I like both Montgomery and Thompson. They are both big guys who play hard and never give up on a play. But neither of them is as good a pass rusher as Jenkins. Al Harris was the big name injury on the defense, but Jenkins is the biggest loss so far this season.