More homework to do for Packers first-round pick Kenny Clark
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Packers first-round draft pick Kenny Clark will have more homework to do as he finishes up classes at UCLA.
The defensive tackle won't be able to start his new career full-time in Green Bay until classes back in Los Angeles finish up next month. He was just starting to read up on the playbook, too, during the team's two-day rookie orientation camp last week.
''I think probably the playbook and getting the playbook down and just trying to learn things on the fly,'' Clark said about the toughest part of the rookie learning curve.
Not that Clark minds going back to school, either. His goal is to graduate, which the junior estimated will take another year, at least, to accomplish.
Professionally, the goal is to help fill the gap in the middle of the left by the departure of run-stuffer B.J. Raji. The veteran said earlier in the offseason that he was taking a one-year ''hiatus'' from the game.
So there's a huge opportunity for the 6-foot-3, 314-pound Clark to make an impact this fall at Lambeau Field. Since Clark cannot transition full-time into the offseason program, he'll focus on working out and studying the playbook from afar.
''I wish I could stay here ... I wish I could stay here throughout the whole process, but I think that will probably be one of the more difficult parts - that I won't be here with the team,'' Clark said.
In UCLA's academic calendar, the current spring quarter doesn't end until June 10. Packers offseason minicamp begins on June 14.
''You obviously don't have the reps. There's definitely a transition period,'' coach Mike McCarthy said about whether Clark and other rookies on similar academic calendars might fall behind schedule.
''It's never the same for one player, so that transition period will go into the summer and obviously we'll make sure they're ready for training camp,'' McCarthy added.
Working in Clark's favor are the glowing reports from his college coaches and Packers brass about the player's maturity. It is impressive given that Clark is one of the youngest players on the roster at age 20.
Clark was a team captain as a junior at UCLA, where he finished his career having started 29 straight games. Last season, Clark had 75 tackles, including 11 for losses, along with six sacks and five pass breakups.
''The way he goes about his life is consistent. The effort is the same all the time. You're not going to see a drop-off in practice,'' UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said recently in a phone interview. ''He brings a lunch pail with him.''
Another factor that could aid Clark's transition is how he was used in a UCLA system that has some similarities to the three down-linemen scheme that defensive coordinator Dom Capers uses in Green Bay, Bruins defensive line coach Angus McClure said.
While playing nose guard, Clark was ''constantly double-teamed,'' McClure said. With an emphasis on stopping the run, the coaching staff focused on improving Clark's footwork and hand placement.
At Lambeau last week, Clark said there were a few tweaks that he had to adjust to from his new coaches.
''Just getting the fundamentals down, and just getting used to how they want to play defense. You know what I'm saying? Just keep learning the fundamentals, and just learning what coach wants me to do,'' Clark said.
The next test in Green Bay for the rookie comes in June.
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