Kenny Clark

Kenny Clark Not Planning Holdout

Top Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark is now in a contract year. The Packers picked up his fifth-year option — worth $7.69MM — in May of last year but have not initiated extension talks with their 2016 first-rounder yet.

While Clark did not guarantee he will be present for all Green Bay offseason workouts, he does not want to wage a holdout.

Hopefully, I don’t have to do anything like that,” Clark said, via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’m not that kind of guy. I don’t think it will come to that.”

The Packers made an aggressive effort to strengthen their defense this past offseason, shelling out big money for edge rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, giving Adrian Amos a $9MM-AAV contract and drafting two defenders in Round 1. Clark, however, would seemingly be a priority given his abilities up front. Clark has been extension-eligible since January 2019, but teams are often not keen on extending ex-first-rounders prior to their fifth-year option seasons.

I hope it happens sometime soon,” Clark said of extension talks. “They’re not really (at a point) where they’re actually getting into it, talking. I’m pretty sure at some point they will. Somebody will have to break the ice and talk.

After registering 12 sacks over the past two seasons, Clark has become one of the better interior defenders in the game. Although the Packers have the Smiths locked down through 2022 on major commitments, their summer release of Mike Daniels left their defensive line without a notable veteran deal. It would seem Clark is primed to fill that space, but the team has not approached this prospect yet.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Playoff Injury Updates: Seahawks, Brown, Iupati, Fant, Titans, Brown, Packers, Clark

The latest injury news for the divisional round games:

  • The Seahawks’ offensive line is in dire shape. Starting left guard Mike Iupati is listed as doubtful, and it looks like he’ll miss his second straight game. Even more concerning, head coach Pete Carroll said both tackles Duane Brown and George Fant would be game-time decisions. Brown has missed the last few games, and Fant has been filling in for him at left tackle. Fant played 100 percent of the snaps in Seattle’s win over Philly last week, but is dealing with a groin injury. If he’s unable to go the plan is to start Chad Wheeler at left tackle, per Joe Fann of NBC Sports. Wheeler signed to Seattle’s practice squad back in October, and hasn’t appeared in a regular season game since October. He started a bunch of games for the Giants the previous two seasons, with disastrous results. If he’s forced into the lineup, the Packers’ pass-rushing duo of Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith will be licking their chops.
  • The Titans will be without a key piece of their defense as they look to pull off a second straight upset against the Ravens. Starting inside linebacker Jayon Brown has been ruled out for this weekend’s game. Brown started against the Patriots last week, but left the game with a shoulder injury. It’s a blow to Tennessee’s run defense as they look to slow down the league’s best rushing attack.
  • The Titans might not be the only team without a key defensive piece. Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark, who started all 16 games this season, is being listed as questionable. Clark was on a tear down the stretch, racking up 4.5 sacks in Green Bay’s last four games. If he doesn’t go it’ll help mitigate some of Seattle’s offensive line losses.

Injury Notes: Ingram, 49ers, Thielen, Fuller

With every team booked into divisional-round action having now begun practice, here is the latest from the injury front going into Round 2. We’ll start with a midweek Vikings setback:

  • Stefon Diggs has missed two Vikings practices because of illness this week, but Mike Zimmer expects him to suit up in San Francisco. However, Adam Thielen suffered an ankle injury at practice and was limited on Wednesday as a result. Thielen was not on Minnesota’s Tuesday injury report. The Pro Bowl wideout missed much of this season with a hamstring injury. He caught seven passes for a game-high 129 yards against the Saints.
  • The NFL’s other purple-wearing team will likely go into its second-round game with backfield uncertainty. Previously expected to return for the Ravens‘ playoff opener, Mark Ingram has missed both Ravens practices this week. Ingram experienced a setback with his injured calf last week, leading to the Ravens to shut him down for a bit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The Ravens are indicating there is a “realistic chance” Ingram plays. Baltimore backup Gus Edwards‘ 5.2 yards per carry ranked third in the NFL this season.
  • 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander has been cleared for game action, per Rapoport (video link), meaning it’s now Kyle Shanahan‘s call on whether to redeploy the high-priced defender Saturday. The 49ers used their second IR-return spot on Alexander, who is attempting to return from a midseason pectoral tear, but have not activated him yet.
  • Winding down an oft-injured season, Dee Ford is back at 49ers practice and appears ready to return at a key juncture. The veteran defensive end has dealt with a few maladies, his most recent being a hamstring issue that he aggravated in December. Ford’s gone through limited practices the past two days.
  • One of the NFL’s most important No. 2 wideouts, Will Fuller is trending in the right direction for the Texans‘ divisional-round rematch in Kansas City. The Texans expect their deep threat to return against the Chiefs, Rapoport tweets. Fuller was limited Wednesday. Deshaun Watson‘s QBR figure is 16 points higher when Fuller is on the field compared to when he’s not. The injury-prone wideout missed six games this season, the latest because of the groin injury he sustained in December.
  • Among the healthiest of the divisional-round teams, the Packers will have their right tackle back in the mix. Bryan Bulaga suffered a concussion in Week 17 but passed the protocol Wednesday, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Kenny Clark, however, missed practice with a back injury. The contract-year defensive lineman played all 16 Packer games this season.

Packers DT Kenny Clark Hires Doug Hendrickson

As he gears up for what promises to be a highly-lucrative contract extension, Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark has hired veteran NFL agent Doug Hendrickson, as Liz Mullen of SportsBusinessJournal.com reports (via Twitter). Clark will be represented by Hendrickson and his Wasserman colleague, CJ LaBoy.

Green Bay exercised Clark’s fifth-year option a few months ago, so they have him under club control through the 2020 campaign. However, the 2016 first-rounder has established himself as a very good interior defender, and Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, echoing reports we heard earlier this year, suggests that player and team could work out a long-term deal before Clark becomes a free agent (Twitter link).

Last year, the 23-year-old (24 in October) put up a career-high six sacks and matched his 2017 tackles total with 55. Unfortunately, his season was halted by an elbow injury in December, but he was Pro Football Focus’ No. 9 ranked interior lineman in the NFL when he was placed on IR. GM Brian Gutekunst recently called Clark a “dominant player,” and he will be paid accordingly.

Currently, Lions DT Damon Harrison is pacing the 3-4 defensive tackle market with an average annual value of $11.25MM, but Clark’s play thus far suggests that he offers more as a pass rusher than Snacks. Excluding Jets rookie Quinnen Williams, who received a fully-guaranteed pact as a result of his status as the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft, the $25MM in guaranteed money that the Bears gave to Eddie Goldman last September is currently the highest guaranteed payout for a 3-4 DT.

Another season like his 2018 campaign would likely allow Clark to top Harrison’s AAV and Goldman’s guarantees. It would not be surprising to see him land a contract paying him $12-13MM per year with $35MM or so in guaranteed money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Packers, Clark, Lynch, Giants

The Packers made the surprising decision to cut Mike Daniels earlier today, and GM Brian Gutekunst confirmed that the club did try to trade Daniels first (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). It sounds as if Green Bay made some headway in trade talks, but the talks broke down over the last couple of weeks. Gutekunst also mentioned Daniels’ foot injury as a factor in the decision.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • The decision to cut Daniels has opened the door for the Packers to sign NT Kenny Clark to a lucrative extension, as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Silverstein suggests (via Twitter) that such a deal could happen at the end of the season.
  • Matt Barrows of The Athletic suggests that, although John Lynch is the 49ers‘ GM, he is primarily in charge of the defense, while head coach Kyle Shanahan picks the offensive talent. And Lynch has missed on a few major decisions on the defensive side of the ball, so if that unit should struggle again, not only will defensive coordinator Robert Saleh be in danger of losing his job, but Lynch could be as well.
  • The Giants worked out free agent safeties Johnathan Cyprien and Tre Boston several days ago, but Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com does not believe Big Blue is going to pay for a starting-caliber safety at this point (Twitter link). He thinks the club was simply doing its due diligence.
  • The Panthers will give Daryl Williams some reps at left tackle and left guard in training camp, per GM Marty Hurney (via Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic on Twitter). Williams signed a one-year deal in March to remain with Carolina, but Hurney is said to prefer Taylor Moton at right tackle — where Williams has spent most of his time as a pro — and the club drafted LT Greg Little in the second round this year. So if Williams is to earn the big FA contract that he missed out on this year, he may have to do so at an unfamiliar spot.
  • The Buccaneers have placed Jason Pierre-Paul on the active/non-football injury list, as James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets. Although a player on the active/NFI list can be activated from that list at any time before the start of the season, that will almost certainly not happen with JPP, who is expected to miss at least a chunk of the regular season.

Packers To Exercise Kenny Clark’s Option

The Packers intend to exercise the fifth-year option on Kenny Clark‘s contract, GM Brian Gutekunst says (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky). The Packers technically have until the May 3 deadline to formally make the move. 

He’s a dominant player on the defensive front,” Gutekunst said of the defensive tackle.

Last year, Clark enjoyed a solid third pro season. The 23-year-old (24 in October) put up a career-high six sacks and matched his 2017 tackles total with 55. Unfortunately, his season was halted by an elbow injury in December, but he was Pro Football Focus’ No. 9 ranked interior lineman in the NFL when he was placed on IR.

After a strong showing in 2018, picking up Clark’s option was something of a no-brainer for Green Bay brass. With the move, the young standout will be under contract through the 2020 season.

You can keep track of every fifth-year option decision in the NFL with PFR’s handy tracker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Place DL Kenny Clark On IR

A week after shutting down defensive tackle Kenny Clark for the season with an elbow injury, the team officially placed him on injured reserve on Tuesday, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets

He will be replaced on the roster by tackle Alex Light, who is coming off a one-game PED suspension, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky tweets.

The injury that sidelined the breakout defensive lineman is not expected to need surgery, but with the Packers officially out of the playoff race, the team decided to sit him for the final three games.

In his third season in the league, Clark, 23, enjoyed his finest as a pro, boasting a career-high six sacks and equalling last’s season’s personal best of 55 tackles. The 2016 first-round pick emerged as the anchor of the Packers defensive line and as one of the league’s best all-around defensive tackles. When he went down with an injury, Clark was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the league’s ninth-best interior lineman.

In May, the Packers are expected to pick up his fifth-year option that will keep him in Green Bay through the 2020 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers To Place DL Kenny Clark On IR

Kenny Clark emerged to become one of the league’s top interior linemen this season, but the third-year Packer’s slate will conclude early.

Green Bay plans to place Clark on IR, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The Packers’ nose tackle is dealing with an elbow injury, but Pelissero adds that malady will not require surgery. But with the Packers set to miss the playoffs for a second straight year, they will shut down one of their top young talents.

Clark’s year will close with a career-high six sacks, to go along with two fumble recoveries. Pro Football Focus graded Clark’s 13-game 2018 work sample as the ninth-best thus far by an interior lineman.

The Packers seemingly have an easy decision on Clark’s fifth-year option in May. That would extend his rookie contract through the 2020 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Bears, Floyd, Redskins, Pryor

Bears coach John Fox says linebacker Leonard Floyd is going to miss some time, but he would not commit to putting Floyd on injured reserve when speaking to reporters on Monday (Twitter link via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune). That’s because the team believes that he does not have a torn ACL, so a return later in the year is still possible. All in all, it’s good news for Floyd after he was carted off the field in Sunday’s loss to the Lions.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor is getting arthroscopic surgery on his ankle, a source tells Mike Jones of the Washington Post (on Twitter). Doctors should have a better idea of his recovery timetable after he goes under the knife. Pryor, a big free agent signing, has yet to really shine in Washington. To date, he has 20 catches for 240 yards with one touchdown in nine games.
  • Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston‘s shoulder was re-evaluated today and he is not ready to return, head coach Dirk Koetter tells reporters (Twitter link via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com). Winston will be out this week against the Falcons, but doctors will check him out next week.
  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says Blaine Gabbert will start again this week (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). The plan, he says, is to stick with him until Drew Stanton is totally healthy. Gabbert completed 22-of-34 of his passes for 257 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, both occurring late in the game. He did a solid job overall, but the Cardinals wound up falling short and falling to 4-6 on the year.
  • Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark suffered a high-ankle sprain on Sunday, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The injury does not appear to be a season-ender, but he may miss multiple games.

Impact Rookies: Green Bay Packers

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

First Round – Kenny Clark, DL (UCLA, No. 27 overall)

Sometimes, even big men fly under the radar, as seems to be the case with this Bruins standout. Named his team’s MVP, he was a dominating force in the middle of the line, taking over starting duties as a sophomore. Well-respected by the staff and teammates, the co-captain preferred to not be in the limelight. However, NFL scouts saw him as a bright light on a dark night. Kenny Clark

In three seasons, Clark delivered 153 tackles with six sacks and 18.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. In his two seasons as a starter, he delivered 117 of those tackles in run force, posted a total of 28 hits for losses (assists and solos) while bringing down twelve other ball carriers for no gain. Twenty-four of those stops came inside the red zone, including seven on goal-line stands.

Clark has really come on strong in recognizing blocking schemes and it was rare to see him bite on misdirection or play action during his junior season. He has no problems taking plays from the chalkboard to the playing field, needing minimal reps to retain. He plays with very good awareness, taking advantage of his impressive arm length to keep blockers off his feet and legs. The UCLA product demonstrated that he picks up schemes quickly and he does well staying with the flow of the play to close on the ball.

Clark has a very explosive initial step with quick feet, good athleticism and balance for his size, along with the body control and low pad level to come off the snap and get an immediate advantage versus a lethargic offensive lineman. He flashes a strong, consistent hand punch, enough to consistently put the blocker up on his heels, driving with good leverage walking that lineman back into the pocket. He has that initial burst needed on movement and the suddenness to gain advantage when engaging double teams. He has good initial quickness coming off the snap and for a player of his size, that burst can surprise an offensive lineman.

Clark appears poised to show that he should have gone earlier than No. 27 in this year’s draft. Word out of Green Bay is that Clark will start at nose tackle in the base 3-4 and his skill set plus versatility will ensure that he sees plenty of time on the field as an NFL frosh.

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