Defensive end Cullen Jenkins doesn't think he'll be back with the team next season, even though he wants to.
Said Jenkins, "Green Bay has a heck of a team. The talent level and the depth, especially on defense, they have a lot of big-time play-makers on it. It's a great defense. Green Bay definitely has an opportunity to compete, not just next year but years down the road. And it would be nice to be a part of that."
Jenkins is 30 years old and will be a free agent, so he expects the team to go in a different direction. That became apparent when he said the team showed no interest in negotiating a new contract even when he said he was willing to give a "hometown discount."
Jenkins said, "Heading into last year, I've always been up there and always been a Packer, and I wanted to stay a Packer. So we approached the team and wanted to get some type of security, some type of longer-term deal before the season so I would know I would be there. It wasn't about money, it was about security, about trying to see if we could work something out."
Asked if he' would have accepted less on a deal to stay, Jenkins said, "Yeah. That was the thought then. I knew in going to them, I know Green Bay, I know the market, I know how they handle business, and the thought was if we could get something reasonable worked out, I knew I would take less than what I could've gotten in free agency. But they never approached me with anything and never got any type of negotiations going. It's just how the business is. They had a lot of younger guys and felt they could move forward in that direction."
One of those younger players is Mike Neal, a rookie second-round pick last year that missed most of the season because of a shoulder injury.
Said Jenkins, "Mike has the ability to take over the game. For him, it's just a matter of getting in there and continuing to be a student of the game and learn it and he'll take it over."
The uncertainty over where he will be next is difficult with the lockout situation.
"I'm just waiting for this lockout to be over with so I can figure out what options I'm going to have," he said. "With this dragging on so long, it's almost like you have to put it out of your mind and not think about it.
"It's one of those things that tests your patience. For most players, it's a matter of when they get to get back to work and when they get to start working out with their team. For me, I don't even know that."
Meanwhile, Jenkins is expected to receive interest from the Redskins once the lockout ends, according to The Washington Post.
--General manager Ted Thompson said late Thursday night he felt comfortable having the Packers end the first round of this year's draft and, thus, serve as the NFL's lead-in to the ballyhooed royal wedding in England a few hours later.
Somewhere - presumably far, far away from Westminster Abbey - Aaron Rodgers had to be feeling like a pampered prince.
The league's rising star, not three months after leading Green Bay to victory in Super Bowl XLV and earning game MVP honors to boot, stands to be well protected for the next several years. With no glaring need to address, Thompson, for a change, held his ground with the No. 32 pick and selected Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod.
"You like to keep him safe. You certainly do," Thompson said of Rodgers, who overcame two concussions sustained in the regular season to engineer the Packers' stunning championship run in the postseason as the NFC's No. 6 seed.
The addition of Sherrod comes one year and one week after Thompson gladly took Iowa tackle Bryan Bulaga at No. 23 on the opening night of the draft.
Green Bay last picked offensive tackles in Round 1 two straight years in the midst of its back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 1996 (John Michels) and '97 (Ross Verba). Michels' impact was brief because of recurring knee problems, and Verba didn't last much longer in Titletown.
This Packers regime, led by Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy, is hopeful of getting significant mileage out of Bulaga and Sherrod as likely bookend tackles.
"Whoever lines up there, we've been fortunate, we've had a lot of good offensive linemen here in the past," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "But, we never take it lightly. I don't know that we ever sit around and think that we've got no worries. It doesn't matter who's lining up. We'll see how it goes. The blitz and the protecting of the quarterback, I don't know that anybody ever sleeps too comfortably about that."
Green Bay moved past the insufficient dividends brought by Michels and Verba by hitting the jackpot with 2000 draft picks Chad Clifton (second round, No. 44) and Mark Tauscher (seventh round, No. 224). Clifton on the left side and Tauscher on the right side formed one of the league's elite tackle duos the better part of a decade, keeping franchise quarterback Brett Favre and successor Rodgers out of harm's way more often than not.
Bulaga's arrival last year all but signaled the changing of the guard on the outside of the offensive line. Bulaga was propped up as the heir to Clifton, who seemingly was on his last legs because of chronic knee problems to go with his advanced age.
Clifton, though, held up for the entire 2010 season as the starter at his customary spot and earned a second Pro Bowl nod. It took a season-ending shoulder injury sustained by Tauscher in Week 4 for Bulaga to crack the lineup, and he held down the spot at right tackle the rest of the way.
While both Clifton and Tauscher are under contract for next season, the likely scenario is Clifton at age 35 gets one last hurrah at his position and the soon-to-be 34-year-old Tauscher accepts a backup role or is out the door.
The 6-5, 321-pound Sherrod, the seventh offensive tackle taken in the first round Thursday, projects to be the Packers' future left tackle and will be given an opportunity to unseat Clifton. Sherrod started at left tackle his last three years at Mississippi State.
"He plays with good balance, good base. He's hardly ever off his feet," Thompson said. "He has the ability to run block, and he's also a very good pass setter. We think he has a chance to be a complete player. And, he's played against good competition (in the SEC) for three or four years."
However, Philbin cautioned that Sherrod may not be as starter-ready for the NFL as some had forecasted before the draft. The run-heavy system in which he played in college is a far cry from the Packers' pass-heavy attack that demands an able bodyguard for Rodgers' blind side.
"We can't wait to get our hands on him," Philbin said. "But, I think he certainly shows the athletic ability to be able to compete."
As long as Clifton is fine physically for another season, the Packers should be able to let Sherrod sit back and develop for a season. Of course, that would be predicated on Bulaga remaining at right tackle, a scenario to which Philbin didn't commit.
For his part, Sherrod, whose sharp mind is underscored by a 3.54 grade-point average and business degree he earned before his senior season, already knew moments after hearing his name called as the last pick of the draft's opening night what is expected of him.
"I'm definitely looking forward to meeting Aaron Rodgers," Sherrod said. "I'm basically there to protect him. That's what I do. I go in and work hard, make sure that nobody hits the quarterback and blow the defender off the ball when it's a run play."
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