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Cheese Curds, 5/18: Packers need to see signs of development from defensive line

Green Bay needs young players to step up alongside Kenny Clark.

NFL: OCT 27 Packers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For a few years now, the Green Bay Packers’ defensive line has been a one-man show. When healthy, Kenny Clark can do it all — he’s just as adept as a run-stuffer as he is as a pass-rusher — but he’s the only truly consistent player on that unit.

Yes, the Packers have moved some players around to get him some more help on the interior. Za’Darius Smith has been effective rushing from an interior position on third downs for example. But the Packers don’t have a running mate for Clark, another true defensive lineman who can play next to him and elevate the play of the Pro Bowler.

This year, the team has again chosen to hold off on drafting defensive linemen early, adding only one through the draft in T.J. Slaton. He has plenty of athletic ability, but finding some consistency with his impact will be his early challenge. The same can be said for a fellow fifth-round pick, Kingsley Keke. Now entering his third season, Keke has likewise shown flashes, but needs to put it together and become a more consistent player.

We have more on all of these linemen in today’s curds below.

Inbox: Those guys are increasingly valuable |
Mike Spofford notes that while Amari Rodgers has extensive punt return experience, he has not returned kickoffs with regularity. Instead, UDFA safety Christian Uphoff spent two years as a kickoff return man, and could be a candidate for that job should he make the team. Meanwhile, he discussed Kenny Clark, the rare modern defensive tackle who is a force against both the run and the pass. Simply put, Clark needs some help.

Packers rookie DL T.J. Slaton is a rare athlete for his size | Packers Wire
Slaton's movement ability at 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds is almost unheard of. And if he could dunk a basketball at closer to 350, that bodes well for his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage.

Packers DL Kingsley Keke on concussion: ‘I knew I wasn’t right in my head’ | (subscription)
Keke missed the postseason with a concussion, which we now know was a very serious one. The team will be counting on him to take a major step forward this season as an interior pass-rusher; he flashed, recording multiple sacks in two games, but needs to find some consistency.

All-Paid Team of Tomorrow: Projecting next big NFL contracts |
If Rodgers decides to stay and play in Green Bay, expect a new contract for Adams to follow in short order. If not, it might take until the 2022 offseason for him to get paid, but he'll get a huge deal somewhere -- possibly in the $25 million/year range.

Denver Broncos add Minnesota Vikings' Kelly Kleine to front office in historic scouting hiring | ESPN
Kleine, a native of Sheboygan who grew up a Packers fan, is making the jump to Denver to rejoin George Paton, the Broncos' GM who was also in the Vikings' front office for the last several years.