Following the departure of Cullen Jenkins, the Green Bay Packers defensive line's play dropped off significantly from 2010 to 2011. Mike Neal's injuries and the average play of others left a huge gaping hole at right defensive end, one that Jerel Worthy hopes to fill in 2012.
The rookie out of Michigan State will have opportunities to contribute in the base defense and in plenty of other packages if he proves himself in preseason. He's not playing with the 1s full time in the 3-4 base at the moment, but he looks capable of playing multiple positions in multiple sets. Friday's Family Night will be his first big test in real game situations, and he'll see a lot of different ones.
Follow along for what you should be looking for from Worthy.
1. How does he play as a DE in a 3-4? - Worthy will probably play more defensive tackle in two-linemen sets than he does defensive end in three-linemen sets, but he'll get plenty of looks in the 3-4. It's a new position for him, though there isn't a huge difference between the tackle position he played at Michigan State and the defensive end position in a base 3-4. It will be interesting to see how well he rushes the passer from a different spot and if he's learned his gap responsibilities.
2. What packages does he play in? - Is Worthy a first team guy in the 2-4-5? Is Dom Capers going to run a lot of psycho? These questions haven't been answered yet, and they might not be answered until the first game of the regular season. Worthy's biggest asset is his versatility. He can stop the run and rush the passer, and he can also play DT and DE. Hopefully, he gets looks in at least three totally different spots during Family Night.
3. Are the concerns about his motor overblown? - We're not going to know for sure after Family Night and preseason games, but there's no reason to believe that Jerel Worthy is going to take plays off, which was one of the knocks on him coming out of college. He's gone hard in practice since he showed up, and hopefully he goes hard all night on Friday.
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