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Raji sees himself in young D-linemen

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 21, 2012 – 3:36 pm

A lot has been said already about second-round draft pick Jerel Worthy and fourth-rounder Mike Daniels and what they could mean to the Packers’ defensive line in 2012.

Both players have flashed in practice, but there has yet to be much to shout about during the preseason games. They’re hoping to change that Thursday in Cincinnati, obviously, and veteran D-lineman B.J. Raji believes it should only be a matter of time, because both youngsters entered the NFL with the right approach.

“The thing I like about them, I see a lot of myself in them,” Raji said. “Jerel was a high pick, but he was willing to learn. He didn’t come in with the idea that he knew everything. He came in asking questions. Mike’s the same way.

“Anytime a guy comes in asking questions, you really don’t hesitate to help them, because they see the need, that they need to improve. They need to do certain things to be successful. Both of those guys are competitive, they want to win, and they want to do everything they can to help this defense.”

Raji added that there will be some tough decisions at cutdown time for the roster within his position group.

“This is probably the youngest and deepest D-line I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here,” he said. “This is the game where you want to come out and show you can play within this defense.”

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Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp

Woodson encouraged with defense

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 7, 2012 – 8:12 pm

Veteran CB Charles Woodson has been around enough “hype” in the preseason to know when it’s just that, hype.

So when he said on Tuesday that he’s “encouraged” by what he’s seen on the practice field thus far in training camp as the Packers have brought in several new faces to try to bolster a defense that dropped to last in the league rankings a year ago, he’s not just trying to be nice. Woodson has never minced words about the disappointing defensive showing in 2011 and how much needed to change to fix it in 2012.

“I think we’re encouraged,” Woodson said. “Practice-wise I think there’s been a lot of energy out there on the field, and I think we have added some pieces to our defense we feel like are going to help us. In preseason, everybody feels good about their chances, (but) we really do feel good about what we’re doing and the way we’re working defensively.”

Woodson said the coaches indicated Monday night’s practice was the best thus far for the defensive unit, so the goal is to carry that into Thursday’s preseason opener, even if the starters play very little (and Woodson may not play at all, as has been his pattern for first preseason games).

The biggest difference Woodson sees on defense this year is the added speed the young players bring, particularly when the Packers go to their “dime” defense with six defensive backs.

“A big downfall for us last year was third down,” Woodson said, referring to the Packers’ No. 26 ranking in third-down defense. “I think having more speed out there, being able to get guys down and get off the field, is going to be very important for us this year.”

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Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp