Packers plan to keep rookie Kenny Clark busy

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY - As a first-round draft choice, Green Bay Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark has a lot of eyes on him in training camp.

What coach Mike McCarthy is looking at most is how often Clark is on the field. The more reps he gets during training camp, the faster he’ll be ready for the regular season.

“I think Kenny is doing a good job, but particularly at the line of scrimmage you can’t have enough reps with guys getting after it and getting their pads set and playing with triple extension throughout their ankles, knees and hips and getting their pads right and pad level down,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, we’re not even close to where we need to be.”

Starting Sunday when the Packers open the exhibition season against Indianapolis, Clark is going to be downing live reps like they’re cups of Gatorade. There is no concern about wearing down a 20-year-old rookie.

In practice, Clark is a regular participant in the physical half-line run drill in which the action is coming at you no matter what. The offense lines up from center to tight end on one side with two backs in the backfield and the defense matches up personnel.

Clark got a good share of those reps during the team’s Family Night practice at Lambeau Field on Sunday night.

“I think the half-line run drill is an illustration of what we’re trying to accomplish,” McCarthy said. “You do 24 reps at the rate and physicality we do it, that’s how you get your football team ready. There’s a number of things you’re getting done there, the fits in the run defense, the pad level, and the combination blocks and the pattern schemes mixed in with the zone schemes.

“So you can’t have enough of that. Going to half-line format as opposed to a nine on seven like you did in the old days, I think the quality of reps goes up. The number of reps goes up and I think it creates a better teaching opportunity.”

Clark has not had a problem understanding the defense, McCarthy said, despite missing most of OTAs because of NFL rules regarding rookies whose colleges are still in session during offseason workouts.

“I think mentally, Kenny has done a good job,” McCarthy said. “I mean, I just look at as we go through corrections, where he’s coming in as far as (defensive line) coach Mike Trgovac grades him, I don’t see a guy that’s behind or so forth.”

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