DL Pickett the strongman on Packers’ line
The departures of receiver Donald Driver and defensive back
Charles Woodson in the offseason gave Ryan Pickett a new title with
the Green Bay Packers.
While B.J. Raji gets the headlines when it comes to the Packers’
defensive line, alongside him is the durable Pickett, who goes into
his 13th NFL season as the oldest player on the roster at the age
With the Packers playing their second preseason game at St.
Louis on Saturday night, Pickett returns to where his lengthy
career started when he was one of the Rams’ first-round draft picks
in 2001. Pickett isn’t getting sentimental about playing his former
team in the Edward Jones Dome, something he’s done a few times
since leaving St. Louis and signing as a free agent with the
Packers in 2006.
”I’ve been here so long I’d forgotten about (playing for) St.
Louis, really,” Pickett said Thursday. ”It’s just another game
Having played more than 200 games as a pro – from preseason to
the regular season to the playoffs – Pickett is looking forward to
many more. He wants to keep playing past this season after his
four-year contract with the Packers runs out.
”This won’t be my last year playing,” Pickett said.
And Pickett isn’t ready to leave Green Bay, where he’s been a
run-stuffing mainstay in the starting lineup and has a home with
his wife and their six young children.
”I’d love to stay here, absolutely,” Pickett said.
The Green Bay coaches are happy to have Pickett back for another
season as a dependable anchor on the defensive line.
”Ryan’s a rock, and Ryan knows his role on this defense and he
takes great pride in it,” defensive line coach Mike Trgovac
With no more than 1 1/2 sacks in any of the previous seven
seasons with the Packers and none the last two years, Pickett has
left the splash plays on defense to the likes of linebacker Clay
Matthews and Raji. But Pickett has been productive in his own right
by splitting double teams in the trenches and wrapping up the ball
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers singled out Pickett’s efforts
in a run-oriented drill at practice Wednesday.
”He was in the backfield two or three times and being
disruptive, which is what `Pick’ can do,” Capers said.
Pickett led Green Bay’s defensive linemen last season with 75
tackles, his highest total since Capers was hired to run the
defense in 2009 and implemented a 3-4 scheme.
”Since I’ve been here, I thought that was his best year,” said
Trgovac, who also joined the Green Bay staff in 2009. ”Even when
he’s tired, you put him in the game, he hustles to the ball, he
does what you tell him to do. It’s naturally in his DNA.”
Pickett’s workmanlike contributions and his longevity in the NFL
are testaments to his generally good health and a determination to
play every week. Pickett has missed only 14 games in his career. He
started every game in 2012, the first time he played an entire
season since 2008.
”You play this game, you get nicks and bruises and stuff like
that,” Pickett said. ”(But) I didn’t even think about it that I
played every game last year. That’s what I normally did throughout
the years – I don’t miss too many games.”
Raji, who has been a running mate of Pickett on the D-line since
2009, isn’t surprised by Pickett’s staying power.
”Pick takes good care of his body,” Raji said. ”He’s
obviously a tough guy to play nose (tackle) for 13 years. You have
to be tough mentally and tough physically.”
For the 6-foot-2, 338-pound Pickett, managing his weight has
helped him play at a high level. And being the oldest Packer in the
locker room is a distinction Pickett embraces.
”I get all of the `old’ jokes now,” a smiling Pickett said.
”I catch them pretty much every day. But it doesn’t bother me. I
love it. I tell ’em (his teammates) I’ve been around long enough to
have these old jokes cracked at me, so I’m doing something
Also Thursday, coach Mike McCarthy defended Aaron Rodgers after
Driver made critical remarks about the quarterback during an ESPN
Driver, who retired in February as the Packers’ all-time leading
receiver, was asked whether Rodgers is a ”me” guy following
similar comments by ex-Packers receiver Greg Jennings, now with
”We’ve always been in the room and we’ve always said that the
quarterback is the one who needs to take the pressure off of
everyone else,” Driver said. ”If a guy runs the wrong route, it’s
easy for the quarterback to say, `Hey, I told him to run that
route,’ than the guy to say, `Hey, I ran the wrong route.’
Sometimes you ask Aaron to take the pressure off those guys so we
don’t look bad. He didn’t want to do that. He felt like if you did
something bad, you do it. That’s the difference. You want that
leadership. I think sometimes you may not feel like you got
McCarthy said he was aware of Driver’s interview and some of the
comments that were made.
”Frankly, I think Aaron manages his job responsibility very
well,” McCarthy said. ”I’m very fond of Donald. I know he’s going
through a tough period right now with his loss (his father’s
death), and my thoughts and prayers are out to him and his family.
But I don’t know what to really say about the comments.”
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