Kenny Clark: Lack of top-100 props from peers 'messes with my mind'
GREEN BAY - Kenny Clark’s breakout 2019 season came at the right time. Cracking his first Pro Bowl roster, Clark caught a natural springboard into the final season of his rookie contract.
His six sacks and 62 tackles — not to mention constant double teams — warranted the selection. At just 24 years old, Clark tied for sixth among the NFL’s interior linemen in sacks and was fourth in tackles. He was the youngest interior lineman to rank among the league’s top eight in sacks or tackles, and Clark did both.
But when the NFL Network released its top 100 players this offseason, a list voted on by fellow players in the league, Clark was not included.
No, that didn’t sit well with the former first-round pick.
“Sometimes it just messes with my mind,” Clark said, “because I don’t know what (more) I can do or show. I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s clearly, I don’t know if they don’t respect me as much or because I’m inside, they don’t see (me). They don’t know the game, they aren’t watching the film. They don’t see me on tape as much. I’m not making as much splash plays. I don’t know what it is.
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“I gotta get back to work and just keep proving myself again this year. I plan on having another great year and hopefully they see that this year.”
Another great year would again come at the right time, especially given the potential salary-cap restraints expected if the coronavirus pandemic dwindles league revenue this fall. Clark brushed aside a question about his contract status, saying he’s focused on how he plays.
Still, the need for a big year made for an easy decision when considering whether or not to opt out because of COVID-19 this season. No, Clark said, he never considered it.
“I just miss football man,” he said.
Another COVID addition
The Packers added long snapper Hunter Bradley to the COVID-19 reserve list Monday, making him the team's fourth player to be sidelined for reasons related to the coronavirus.
The Packers and the rest of the NFL are not specifying why a player is being added to the list, but the two reasons for being placed there are testing positive or coming in proximity of someone who has contracted the virus.
Using leaguewide protocols, the Packers tested players three times in four days before allowing them to enter the facility for the start of training camp.
Before Monday, kicker Mason Crosby, tight end Jace Sternberger and outside linebacker/defensive end Greg Roberts were placed on the list.
The player’s return depends on whether he tested positive and showed symptoms or had close contact with someone who did test positive. Players who tested positive and show no symptoms can return in five days if they register two negative tests in a 24-hour period. Players who tested positive and showed symptoms must be sidelined a minimum of 10 days from when the symptoms first showed.
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Someone who came in close contact with an infected person can return after two negative tests in 24 hours.
The team is conducting strength and conditioning exercises and won’t be on the field until late next week. Players who are on the COVID-19 list can take part in virtual meetings.
Funchess opt-out creates cap space
The Packers gained around $375,000 in salary room because of wide receiver Devin Funchess' decision to opt out of the season.
Funchess will count $1,050,000 against the cap instead of $2.5 million because his base salary and future bonuses have been tolled until next year. The $1 million signing bonus and $50,000 workout bonus he received count against the cap this year.
The Packers are $12.3 million under the salary cap.
The team is down to three quarterbacks after Jalen Morton, an undrafted free agent signed in May, was released.
General manager Brian Gutekunst waived 2019 practice squad quarterback Manny Wilkins after signing Morton.
Given the limited practice time before the season starts, it’s not surprising coach Matt LaFleur is going with just Aaron Rodgers, Tim Boyle and rookie Jordan Love.
Gutekunst also released fullback/tight end Elijah Wellman, who had been signed as a futures free agent in January. Wellman became expendable when the Packers claimed fullback/tight end John Lovett on waivers from Kansas City last week.