Two words perfectly describe the Packers' defensive line at present: overworked and undermanned. Just when it seemed that veteran DLE Ryan Pickett was getting over the nagging ankle injury that forced him to miss a couple of games earlier this season, the D-line suffered a substantial blow last Sunday against the 49ers when DRE Cullen Jenkins, who was looking as good as he has all season, reinjured the calf he initially hurt in pregame warmups before the Vikings game in Week 11. Jenkins is out for sure against the Lions, and at this writing, he is considered questionable at best for the game the following week at New England.
To say the Packers will miss Jenkins' pass-rush ability — his two sacks before being injured late against the Niners gave him a career-high of seven — is putting it lightly, considering that he had been applying most of the pass-rush pressure lately with LOLB Clay Matthews battling his own nagging injury (shin) and being used more in coverage. The plan is for Jenkins to be replaced by either seventh-round rookie C.J. Wilson, who actually did a very decent job previously replacing Pickett in the starting lineup, or second-year pro Jarius Wynn, who has been inactive the past four games but apparently has looked really good in practice.
Without Jenkins in the mix, the line also will need more from burly ex-Jets reserve Howard Green, who has steadily regressed since offering a strong initial boost going back to the Jets game, which featured terrific efforts from all of Dom Capers' defensive replacement parts.
The pressure is also ratcheted up a few notches for NT B.J. Raji, who has been an unsung pillar of strength all season but couldn't be blamed for being more than a little worn down, considering his extra workload this season because of injuries.