Thursday, June 17, 2010

Raji will be raging in the middle

We all know that there were big expectations for the big man, B.J. Raji, when the Packers drafted him #9 overall in last year's NFL Draft. While he certainly played well for a rookie, it can probably honestly be said that fans were left wanting in the expectations department.

That's going to change this year. Not the expectations, which are still sky high for Raji and the entire Packers organization. What's going to change is Raji's level of play. How do we know? He told us so. When asked yesterday after the team's organized team activity (OTA) what he'd do if he was the regular guy in the middle -- at the nose tackle slot -- what he'd do, Raji responded quite simply, “Just cause havoc.” That would be g-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-d.

Remember that last season Raji missed a couple weeks of training camp while contract details were being worked out. Then he sustained an ankle injury almost immediately that kept him out for a while altogether and then left him a bit gimpy when he was able to play. He was also bounced around with line rotations, moving back and forth from defensive end to nose tackle and thus couldn't really settle into one spot, perhaps limiting his development a bit in the process.

But now, the Packers have told Raji that's he's the man in the middle this season. And he's already got his game mentality on. It's the kind of talk from a young player that, if he's able to back it up -- and there's no reason to think he can't -- should put him on a Pro Bowl track. Here's what he had to say, according to an article in today's Green Bay Press Gazette: “Sky’s the limit for me, I believe. When I come in and wreak havoc, it will change a lot. It makes the lives of Nick (Barnett) and (Brandon Chillar) and A.J. (Hawk) a lot easier. That’s what the 3-4 is designed to do, get our linebackers running free and making plays. And when the opportunity presents itself, I’ll make the plays myself.”

Good for you, Mr. Raji. We're counting on you to plug that middle. We're looking forward to seeing a lot of havoc anywhere near where you happen to be.