Who Can Replace Cullen Jenkins As An Inside Pass Rusher?

Where the Green Bay Packers will miss DE Cullen Jenkins most is on passing downs. It was a very common sight to see him lined up alongside NT B.J. Raji as the only two defensive lineman rushing the quarterback on third down.

So the first name that should be mentioned as Jenkins replacement as the top inside pass rusher is none other than Raji himself. As Pro Football Focus pointed out, Raji just got better as the season went along, and he produced as many pressures in the Super Bowl as he did for all of 2009. His continued improvement might focus the blocking scheme his way, and give Jenkins's replacement a better opportunity to rush the quarterback.

So who's this new inside pass rusher? I'm not quite sure, but Tom Silverstein mentions the most obvious name, former 2nd round pick Mike Neal:

Neal would be the leading candidate to take over Jenkins' inside rush position in the nickel package. Of any position the Packers have to fill - left guard included - it might be the one that hurts them the most.

While I thought Neal was drafted as Jenkins's replacement, his recovery from shoulder surgery is setting him back, and I don't expect he'll be 100% by the start of the season. As good as Jenkins was, DE C.J. Wilson is impressing the coaches, and I hope that's not just talk. DE Jarius Wynn has done a good job generating some pressure too, and he can replace some of what Jenkins did as a pass rusher.

I had accepted for a while that the Packers would not bring Jenkins back. But he got a favorable contract from the Eagles which was a lot less then I expected he would demand. I'm starting to wish they had made a late effort to keep him at that price.

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