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Mike McCarthy: Datone Jones to make huge jump in '14

The Green Bay Packers have been tight-lipped about the specifics of their plan to shore up a defense that ranked in the bottom third of the NFL last season.


With the offseason underway, Around The League explores what's next for all 32 teams.

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Speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday, coach Mike McCarthy made it clear that 2013 first-round draft pick Datone Jones will have a big role in that turnaround.

One of the keys next season will be keeping Jones on the field. The Packers were counting on him as a key member of the defensive-line rotation until an August late-ankle sprain set him back as a rookie.

McCarthy believes Jones is a "very talented young man" and "one of those second-year players who makes a huge jump."

With Clay Matthews, Casey Hayward and Nick Perry also returning from injuries, the Packers will get more help from their own players than free agency.

Here's what else we learned from McCarthy on Friday:

» The coaching staff isn't actively trying to get smaller and lighter on the defensive line, but McCarthy did acknowledge the desire to increase athleticism and versatility up front. According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, the team is prepared to let wide-bodied B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett walk in free agency.

» Eddie Lacy's primary focus in 2014 will be to "play all three downs throughout the whole game." With DuJuan Harris returning from injury, Johnathan Franklin developing and James Starks hopefully re-signing, McCarthy believes the running-back rotation can be as good as he's ever had in Green Bay.

On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys speculate on big names who could be cut, then talk offseason forecasts for the Packers and Raiders.

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