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The rookie bears a striking resemblance, both in his appearance and in the mature-beyond-his-years way he carries himself, to 1998 first-round pick Vonnie Holliday. Holliday, playing opposite Pro Football Hall of Famer and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Reggie White during his rookie year of 1998, recorded eight sacks in 12 games that year. At age 37, he carved out a 15-year NFL career and has 62.5 career sacks, 32 of which came with the Packers. While revisionist historians would suggest the Packers erred by taking him over Randy Moss, the team should’ve never let him walk as a free agent after the 2002 season. If Jones can have that kind of longevity – and even more productivity – he’ll have done OK for himself.
With Raji, Pickett, Neal and Wilson all in the final year of their contracts, and only so much money to go around, they should all be motivated to earn their keep. Even Pickett, the old man in the Packers’ locker room at 33, wants to play a few more years and wants them to be in Green Bay. Raji’s contract situation will bear close examination, but Neal probably could be had for a relative bargain if he starts fast and the Packers approach him about an extension. Wilson is no lock for the roster with the recent draft additions, but he’s been willing to do the dirty work of eating up double-teams and letting linebackers make plays behind him for almost four years now. There’s value in that, too.
No wonder the Packers were preaching fumble creation all offseason. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Packers have recovered 55 fumbles since 2006, McCarthy’s first season. That’s tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the fewest in the NFL over that time. The Chicago Bears, meanwhile, recovered an NFL-best 107 fumbles during that same time frame under Smith, or nearly double the number the Packers did. Interestingly, the three teams that were the best at recovering fumbles since 2006 are the Bears, the Detroit Lions (106) and Minnesota Vikings (95), all of the Packers’ NFC North rivals.
“I see competition in there. There’s a lot of young bodies in there, and there’s a couple veteran guys in there with B.J. and Pickett, so I think we’ve got a real good mix of guys that can do some real good things, and when you add that much youth to the group with Mike, Jerel, ‘Tone,’ Josh – all the guys we have in there that are young. Those guys bring a lot of energy, so you better keep up. That’s why I’ve got to keep up with that energy with them because there’s a lot of energy out there with those young guys. Then you have C.J. and ‘Pick’ and B.J. with the experience in there. And Mike, when he’s in our room, he brings some experience in there as well.” – Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, on the mix of talent he has to work with.
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today,” and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.