GREEN BAY – Week 2 provided some redemption for Packers defensive lineman Mike Pennel.
Pulled early from the opener in Chicago – his first NFL start – when Bears running back Matt Forte got rolling, Pennel made up for it last Sunday. Along with veteran linemen B.J. Raji and Mike Daniels, Pennel played his part in holding Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch to just 41 yards on 15 carries.
Pennel held his ground when needed and got penetration into the backfield when called for, staying within the scheme better as he was credited with three tackles, including one for loss on Lynch. He also had one QB pressure.
“I just focused more on my technique and my assignment,” Pennel said. “They wanted me to play my assignment more and not freelance. That was the only thing, just getting back into my playbook and getting the confidence back of the coaches.”
As a result, the 6-4, 332-pound Pennel said his confidence is growing as well. A small-school undrafted rookie a year ago from Colorado State-Pueblo, Pennel didn’t get onto the field until Week 4 and recorded 18 tackles on the season.
This year, through two games, his five tackles are nearly one-third of that total. Sunday night wasn't flawless, though. Pennel was flagged once for lining up offside, costing the Packers a potential fumble recovery, so there are still details he must dial in on.
“Last year I was just fighting to stay on the roster, and now I’m fighting to be a piece of the defense,” he said.
He could be an even bigger piece this week with another formidable back in Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles coming to town, and with fellow lineman Josh Boyd now on injured reserve.
Knowing they’d be shorthanded on the defensive line early in the season with two players suspended, the Packers coaches had Pennel learn in training camp to play base end, in addition to the nose tackle spot he manned at times as a rookie.
On the defensive front, Datone Jones is back, but Letroy Guion won’t be for another week, and now Boyd is out. Pennel’s work at end, even with the rough start in Week 1, is already paying off.
“The coaches know I’m at a new position and they have patience with me,” he said. “I just have to keep preparing.”
Click here for all Packers-Chiefs coverage