The newest member of the Green Bay Packers' defense believes the environment in the NFL’s smallest city will be conducive to resurrecting his career.
“It means more focus,” Wilkerson said Thursday during a conference call. “It’s all about football, and I’m looking forward to it.”
A promising career with the Jets ended badly last season, when he was held out of the final three games of the regular season as a healthy scratch. Wilkerson was benched initially for showing up late and missing meetings, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The Jets released him this offseason after just two seasons of a five-year, $86 million contract,
The Packers signed him to a one-year, $5 million contract, giving him the chance to prove he’s more like the player who recorded 28 sacks between 2013 and 2015 than what he showed in his last two season with the Jets.
“I’m ready to get back to my dominant play,” Wilkerson said. “I know what type of player I’m capable of being, and I’m just ready to do it at a new place, a new organization and a new group of guys. I’m just really excited about the things to come this year.
“I’m capable of being a dominant player that those years have shown, the stats have shown.”
Wilkerson visited three other teams -- the Saints, Chiefs and Redskins -- before he signed with the Packers, where he was reunited with former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine; Pettine was hired to replace the fired Dom Capers in January. Wilkerson called Pettine “a key part in it.”
Wilkerson not only grew up in New Jersey; he went to college at Temple in nearby Philadelphia. Getting away from his roots could be the best thing for him.
“I don’t regret anything,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a business and things happen and that’s that. I’m going to move forward just like the Jets --they will move forward. I’m a Green Bay Packer now, and I’m excited about that.
“It’s a mindset. It’s a mindset and a want-to. I’m ready for that. That’s what I want to get back to: the years when I was very successful and being dominant. I had some dominant years with Coach Pettine. Looking forward to that.”