Video: Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews

Green Bay Packers: 5 key players on defense

Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN’s media platforms. Learn more . RECENT UPDATES ABOUT THIS BLOG David Ubben Ubben joined in March 2010 after covering Big 12 football for two seasons at the Columbia Missourian and The Oklahoman. Ubben, a native of Springdale, Ark., lives in Dallas. Send questions and comments Richard Durrett Richard Durrett joined in September 2009. A co-host of Fitzsimmons and Durrett on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, Richard also writes about the Rangers, Cowboys, Mavericks, colleges, golf and motorsports. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools. Send questions and comments Tim MacMahon Tim MacMahon joined in September 2009. A co-host of ESPN Dallas GameDay on 103.3 FM, Tim also covers the Cowboys and Mavericks.

For Cowboys free agent Eric Rogers, avoiding trouble is a way of life


4. A.J Hawk Back in 2006, the Packers selected linebacker A.J. Hawk with the fifth overall pick. While his play has not been a total bust, it has not been on the same level as Clay Matthews. The last two seasons, Hawk has had zero interceptions. With the departure of Desmond Bishop, Hawk has to continue to step up his play in order to maintain his spot as a starter on the defense. 3. Tramon Williams Williams burst onto the scene in 2008 where he had four interceptions. In 2010, Williams had a career-high six interceptions during the regular season, and added three more in the postseason, including a pick six against the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round. Since that season, Williams has consistently shown his big play ability. With Sam Shields on the other side of the field, the Packers cornerbacks look to be set for a long period of time. 2. B.J. Raji For a first round pick who didnt even want to come to Green Bay, Raji has become a fan favorite to all Packers fans. Most of that fandom came after his pick six against the Bears in the 2010 NFC Championship game, where he did his own version of Aaron Rodgers Discount Doublecheck. The play made Raji a playoff hero and helped the Packers advance to the Super Bowl, where they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. With Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews signed, Raji is the Packers top priority to get signed before he becomes a free agent. Since this is a contract year, Raji will need to prove that, like Rodgers and Matthews, he too is worthy of a large deal. 1.

Clay Matthews will Be Filling That Leadership Void

Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews

Other than Willie Davis, Matthews ranks as the top pass rusher in franchise history. Nick Perry (6-3, 265; second season): Perrys rookie season ended in the sixth game with a knee injury, though it was a wrist injury sustained in the opener that required surgery that officially derailed his season. Using brute force more than anything else, Perry had two sacks in his six games. Despite the meager stats, Perry had an impact first year . Hes the unquestioned starter with Erik Walden signing with Indianapolis. Dezman Moses (6-2, 249; second season): The undrafted rookie took advantage of the injuries to Matthews and Perry and finished with four sacks in his final nine games (including six starts). Moses, who missed most of the offseason practices, looked more natural than Perry in coverage. Nate Palmer (6-2, 248; rookie/R-6): In two seasons at Illinois State, Palmer notched 17 sacks and 25 tackles for losses. During his one month of on-the-job training, he stood out in coverage and ball drills, making him an intriguing prospect. Andy Mulumba (6-3, 260; rookie/UDFA): Mulumba was the second pick of the CFL Draft but opted to take his shot in the NFL. A powerful and explosive athlete with untapped potential, he had one sack and seven tackles for losses as a senior at Eastern Michigan.

Camp Depth Chart: Outside ‘Backers

Webb, a fourth-round pick, and made an early case for a spot on the practice squad. On the first day of training camp Sunday in Oxnard, Rogers reached back to snare an errant pass on a crossing route late in the Cowboys’ first training camp practice. The fans erupted along the sideline. “They kind of went ‘ohhhh,’ ” Rogers said, a smile creeping across his face. Dez Bryant has been similarly impressed. “He’s nice,” said the starting receiver, his voice perking up along with his eyebrows. “I’m not just saying that because he’s one of our receivers either. He’s great. He’s tall and fast, he’s got hands. He’s got it all.” Rogers knows he’s still a longshot to make the active roster, but overcoming odds is nothing new for him. He avoided gang life to become the first in his family to graduate from college.

Obviously the more comfortable I am in the scheme, which I very read here much am, the longer Im here, the more tenured I am, the more I have to take that leadership opportunity. In light of what has happened in the off-season with Charles Woodson departing, the new contract shows trust in my leadership and ability on the field. So youre going to see that, especially in light of the last few years for our defense. Were trying to turn it around and get this thing back to where we were when we had the Super Bowl run. Matthews has always been a good player, but youve never seen him being overly vocal in the locker room or on the field. He just kind of fit in and let his play speak for him. That low-key demeanor appears to be a thing of the past. Matthews was reportedlymuch more vocal than in the past during minicamp and OTAs. He also worked extensively with the younger guys on the defense, who now look up to him. I think its definitely something natural as you get more comfortable in the system, being a leader, Matthews said.


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