Green Bay Packers rookie defensive lineman B.J. Raji has made a good
enough initial impression on the coaching staff that he has been lining
up with the first-team defense. Raji is playing defensive end, with
Ryan Pickett starting at nose guard.
Drafted ninth overall, Raji’s positive stance on his upcoming contract negotiations should also please his new employers.
Raji recently told Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that a contract holdout is out of the question as far as he’s concerned.
“There will be no problem, as far as holding out on my end,” Raji
said. “I’m a rookie but from what I’ve been told, holdouts are not
necessarily a good thing.
“Especially a rookie coming in, you can’t afford to miss a week or
two of training camp, especially when you’re trying to find a way to
get on the field. Yeah, that’s my agency, but I’m in control, not the
other way around.”
Raji, who has also practiced at nose guard as Pickett’s backup, is
expected to bolster a run defense that ranked 26th in the league last
Between the 337-pound Raji and the 340-pound Pickett, the Packers will definitely have a bulky presence at the line of scrimmage.
“It’s going to be tough to run the ball on us,” Pickett told reporters at the Packers’ minicamp last week.
Added outside linebacker Aaron Kampman: “We’ll have to see how it
pans out, but they’re definitely bigger bodies, and usually bigger
bodies do well against the run.”
Especially with new defensive coordinator Dom Capers installing the 3-4 defense as the Packers’ primary base defense.
That’s why it’s even more imperative that Raji report to training
camp on time to get acclimated to the Packers’ defense and a new
position after playing inside at Boston College.
So far, Raji seems to be off to the right start.
“There has definitely been more learning for [Raji],” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, per Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
“He has worked his way through it. He’s a gifted young man. You can
see why everybody was so high on him. His foot quickness, the leverage
that he plays with and his leg strength is definitely exceptional.”