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Defensive line: Unit Adds New look, Key Returning Players Must Improve

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Defensive line: Unit Adds New look, Key Returning Players Must Improve

By Mike Conroy. CREATED Apr 29, 2014

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Our inside-out look at the draft continues with the defensive line.  As things stand now, the Packers do not have Ryan Pickett or Johnny Jolly, two pretty respectable players, and C.J. Wilson left for Oakland, but the cupboard is hardly bare.

Of course there's Julius Peppers, a career defensive end, but with 56, he's got a linebacker's number. It remains to be seen where he lines up, and how often, but I think it would be a mistake not to have him on the field with his hand on the ground in pass rush situations. He's always played a ton of snaps, but could you imagine how fresh he'd be as a situational rusher? It might eliminate the talk of a motor that runs hot and cold.

Of the guys coming back, Mike Daniels is a player, it's time for Jerel Worthy to prove he belongs, and Josh Boyd is a work in progress, and he did make progress as a rookie.

The other two returning linemen have loads of ability, ability we didn't see last season.

Datone Jones looked like a beast the first two weeks of camp, hurt his ankle in the first preseason game, and was the never the same. Don't know if it was the injury, don't know if he just fell behind, but he's got talent, and the hunch here is that he cares about playing up to it. We'll see.

B.J. Raji is also coming off a disappointing year. Early he was fine, look at the explosion on the goal line in Baltimore, but as the season wore on, B.J. was doing a lot of catching, and I don't care if it's on the nose or at end, he's better than that.

I don't know if the contract thing got in his head, but if he wants a long-term deal with mega-numbers, all he's got to do is play like he can, and has in the past.