A few minutes with … Cullen Jenkins

Cullen Jenkins made a recent visit to NFL Network studios in Los Angeles, sharing his thoughts on returning to the Packers, Aaron Rodgers and being shirtless at Lambeau Field:

Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins during a portrait session at NFL Network studios on April 22, 2011. (Gary A. Vasquez/NFL)

Let’s start with your free-agent status. Do you want to be back with the Packers?
CJ: I do. Obviously that’s where I’ve been my whole career. In a perfect world, you can finish out your career where you start. … It’s one of those things you only have so much control over. You have to see how everything plays out and let the system work its course.

Can you make an argument for Rodgers being the best quarterback in the NFL?
CJ: Definitely. He’s still young, too. When you look at a lot of the quarterbacks in that conversation, like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, they’re getting older. Aaron is still on the upside of his career and has a lot more football ahead of him. He’s still getting better, and what’s amazing about him is how he turns it up a notch in the playoffs. What he’s done the last couple of years in the playoffs is pretty incredible, to be able to have that poise and composure. I think a lot of that comes from being around Brett Favre so much and having the chance to develop mentally before he was thrown in the fire.

Tell me the single biggest reason why you won the Super Bowl.
CJ: I would have to say the one thing that got us back on track was the fumble caused by Clay Matthews and Ryan Pickett. We came out strong in the first half and were on pace for a good game, but then had the unfortunate injuries to Charles Woodson and Donald Driver. We’re not the oldest team, so that had a big impact on the mentality of the team at halftime. We got word they were out, and you could see (the reaction) on everyone’s faces. … Things started going downhill during the third quarter. They were surging on us. They could have taken the lead on that drive, but when we got that fumble we got it going again. That was the changing point, right there, to give us the confidence and boost we needed.

Who was the unsung hero of last year’s team?
CJ: I would say Sam Shields and the job he did as an undrafted rookie. Most guys would be happy to make the team and just be inactive, but he was our starting nickel back, did some returns, and started after the injuries. He even played through an injury during the Super Bowl. The year he had, coming out of the blue like that, really helped us out. He stepped up for us.

There’s been talk of the Packers repeating since that game ended. Thoughts?
CJ: They certainly have the foundation. It’s just a matter of guys not getting comfortable, because they definitely have the talent and all the right players and coaching. Guys just can’t get complacent and think it’s going to just come now. You have to know you have to keep working for it.

There’s lots of downtime during the lockout, and I know you’re an avid fisherman. What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever pulled out of the water?
CJ: That would be a 9-foot-1 inch hammerhead shark off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. We were out on a charter boat pretty much the whole day. We weren’t getting any bites, and the captain was trying to figure out why, so we dropped a line down to see if there were any sharks in the area. It’s mounted at my uncle’s house. My wife wouldn’t let me keep it in the house!

You’ve been boxing as part of your offseason training. That’s in vogue right now among NFL players …  any real fights in your future?
CJ: It’s funny because my trainer, from the minute I walked in, he saw I could move well and has been trying to persuade me to do it. But I can’t risk getting hurt. I have to be smart about what I’m doing. But the competitor in you wants to try it, wants to see how you would do. But at the same time, after a few rounds I’m so tired, and my arms are so tired after punching. It’s a whole different monster.

Last, but certainly not least: What do you think about the shirtless fans at Lambeau Field in the middle of winter?
CJ: Those people are crazy! They have the shirtless fans, the bikini girls, it’s crazy out there. They get some alcohol in them and don’t even feel the cold! It’s good, though. It’s a great environment. We feed off of it, and the players appreciate it. I don’t think you’ll see me ever doing that.

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