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Expect the Packers’ Kenny Clark to play defensive end this season

T.J. Slaton should be the team’s nose, based on Family Night.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

As we have mentioned in a previous article, Acme Packing Company independently charted the broadcast of the Green Bay Packers’ Family Night practice — which happened last Friday. One of the more interesting findings that was uncovered was how the defensive line rotation played out.

2022 starting defensive ends Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed both left Green Bay in free agency this offseason, which has opened up plenty of opportunities for the Packers’ young players. At this point, the new starting roles appear to be filled by 2022 first-round pick Devonte Wyatt and 2021 fifth-round pick T.J. Slaton.

The Packers’ first-team defense lined up for 19 snaps in team drills on Family Night. Here’s how the snap count played out on the defensive line:

Total Snaps

  • 18 snaps: Devonte Wyatt
  • 12: Kenny Clark
  • 8: T.J. Slaton
  • 6: Colby Wooden
  • 2: Karl Brooks

I wouldn’t make too much about Wyatt out-snapping Clark, as Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks saw most of their snaps once the starters began to rotate out. What is fascinating, though, is that every single time that the Packers’ base 3-4 defense was on the field, Slaton was at nose tackle. That’s right, Clark — who is best known for his versatile skillset at nose tackle — didn’t take a single rep there on Family Night.

Family Night-DL Snaps

Player DE DT NT Total
Player DE DT NT Total
Devonte Wyatt 8 10 0 18
Kenny Clark 7 5 0 12
T.J. Slaton 0 0 8 8
Colby Wooden 0 6 0 6
Karl Brooks 1 1 0 2

The table above shows the detailed snap counts for each player to get a rep with the first-team defense during Family Night team drills. “DE” designates 3-4 defensive end snaps, “DT” designates nickel defensive tackle looks and “NT” designates 3-4 nose tackle reps. As you can see, there’s a good amount of variance between each player.

On paper, it appears that Wyatt and Clark are going to be both the team’s starting 3-4 defensive ends and the team’s nickel defensive tackles. Slaton played exclusively at nose tackle, while the rookie pairing of Wooden and Brooks saw seven of their eight snaps in nickel defensive tackle situations. It’s safe to assume that those young defensive linemen will spell the starters on pass-rushing downs.

While Clark, Wyatt and Slaton were all members of the 2022 Packers, they’re all going to be playing a different role than the one they filled last season — which is probably a welcome change for Packers fans, who witnessed one of the worst run defenses in the league last year. Going into the preseason, Clark at the end position should be assumed on the baseline depth chart — which correlates with where Green Bay listed Clark on its unofficial depth chart.