It has been a foregone conclusion for some time now that, barring something totally unforeseen, Packers free-agent DRE Cullen Jenkins will be playing elsewhere in 2011. As far as potential replacements for Jenkins are concerned, most of the focus has been on muscle-bound second-year pro Mike Neal, the team's 2010 second-round draft pick who was just starting to really get his act together in his rookie campaign when he suffered a season-ending torn rotator cuff in a practice less than a week after his best performance of the year in a Week Five loss to the Redskins. We hear the team genuinely believes Neal has the potential to replace Jenkins as a quality inside pass rusher and that he is quite capable of making the same kind of progress linemate B.J. Raji made in his second season — if he can stay healthy.
But it appears the team is counting on much more than just Neal's enormous upper-body strength, low center of gravity and off-the-charts work ethic to fill the void left by Jenkins' likely departure. The way we hear it, the replacement of Jenkins could be much more of a joint effort than one might suspect, with fellow second-year pro C.J. Wilson also figuring prominently in the mix, primarily on run downs. The consensus seems to be that Wilson was an extremely pleasant surprise as a rookie. Big and mobile with inherent pass-rush skills, he most impressed daily team observers by never stopping hustling and never seeming overwhelmed in the slightest.
In other words, Wilson sounds like the kind of player it would be a mistake to overlook.