Mike McCarthy: Packers won't be getting smaller on defensive line

Joe Robbins

Green Bay's defensive front struggled at times in 2013, but McCarthy doesn't think that has anything to do with girth.

The Green Bay Packers will be making some defensive overhauls this offseason after struggling on that side of the ball in 2013, but getting smaller on the defensive line isn't part of the plan.

Speaking at a press conference during the NFL Combine on Friday, head coach Mike McCarthy denied reports that the team is looking to downsize its defensive linemen.

"I've never been a part of a conversation where you want d-linemen to be smaller," McCarthy said, according to Matthew Fairburn. "We will do some things different on defense. We're not going to be smaller."

The Packers had plenty of beef up front last season with 337-pound B.J. Raji and 340-pound Ryan Pickett, but still struggled to stop the run. They allowed 4.6 yards per attempt, ranking 29th in the league. Regardless of size, a shakeup is likely on its way, as Raji, Pickett, Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson are all set to become unrestricted free agents in March.

McCarthy mentioned Datone Jones, the defensive end the Packers used a first-round pick on last year, as a player he expects to step into a larger role on the line.

"Datone Jones is a very talented young man. Feel strong he'll be a second-year player that takes a huge jump," McCarthy said, according to the Packers Twitter feed.

Jones battled through an ankle injury during his rookie year, recording 10 tackles and 3½ sacks. McCarthy said he thought the injury set Jones back.

McCarthy also praised rookie running back Eddie Lacy and the offensive line, who he said provided the best offensive balance he's had in his tenure in Green Bay. He said he's looking for Lacy to become a three-down back next season.

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