1) Introduction: With the youth movement Packers general manager Ted Thompson infused into the Packers the past few seasons, long time veteran players have started to come at a premium. On defense, there were two that had had been around a “long” time that started in Super Bowl XLV and ironically were the only two Packers that had played in a previous Super Bowl. One was Charles Woodson.
Can you name the other?
Pencils down. It’s defensive end Ryan Pickett.
Kind of the forgotten man on the Packers defensive line with the emergence of defensive tackle BJ Raji, Pickett was one of the unsung heroes of the Packers’ championship defense. With the young Raji on the rise and Cullen Jenkins playing the other side, Pickett truly flew under the radar.
Of course, Pickett was truly thrust into the starting role this year when Johnny Jolly was suspended for the entire season by the NFL for violation of their substance abuse policy.
Ryan Lamont Pickett
Height: 6-2 Weight: 340 lbs.
3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: As previously mentioned, Pickett was intended to sit behind Jolly as the 2010 campaign unfolded, but when Jolly was suspended by the league, Pickett rose to the top of the depth chart.
What was expected of Pickett was that he be a cog in shutting down the opposition’s rushing attack and open up lanes for the Packers speedy linebackers to get to the quarterback. Since the Packers faced Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte twice (eventually three times), and were scheduled to go up against the likes of Matt Ryan and Tom Brady during a crucial midseason stretch, Pickett’s role would be big.
4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: Pickett’s role does not necessarily involve racking up a lot of statistics so don’t let the one sack and 24 solo tackles mislead you.
Some of highs of his season included the shutout of the New York Jets at New Meadowlands Stadium. With the Jets supposedly possessing the league’s best rushing attack, Pickett and the defensive line came up big and shut down LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene as the Packers got their first road shutout in over 25 years.
The lowlights? Well, the Packers traditionally have held Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in check but this year it seemed like he was able to run over the Packers fairly well. While he only gained 72 yards in the second meeting between the teams, he still ran over the Packers for 131 yards in the game at Lambeau.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Pickett was thrust into a difficult spot after the off the field issues of Jolly came to light. Just like the rest of the team, Pickett embraced the “next man up” mentality that carried the Packers all the way to Dallas except his moment came well before the kickoff of the regular season.
Also, being one the veterans on the defense, Pickett helped bring some calm leadership to the Packers and his experience in Super Bowl XXXVI as a member of the Rams undoubtedly helped him as well as his teammates deal with the distractions of Super Bowl Week.
6) Player’s contributions during the 6-win end-of-season run: Pickett played a big role in helping the Packers shut down Michael Vick and Michael Turner in successive weeks. Both players ran all over the Packers during the regular season, but the defensive line held firm when the games mattered most and helped push the Packers to a world title.
Season Report Card:
(B) Level of expectations met during the season
(B) Contributions to team’s overall success
(B+) Contributions to the team’s successful playoff run
Overall Grade for the year: B——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke