Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels was in town for a couple of media engagements, but he wasn't planning to attend Super Bowl XLVIII. The New Jersey native doesn't have time for it. He has already started working on the 2014 season and is busy making sure some of his teammates are, too. Daniels, 24, said he is done being one of the "young guys" on the team and plans to take a major leadership role on defense this season. Coming off a breakthrough second season in which he started only one game but played 48% of the regular-season snaps and finished second on the team with 6½ sacks, Daniels plans to let it all hang out now. "I am not afraid to step up as a leader now," Daniels said. "I'm in my third year. I've made some plays. I've earned some respect in the locker room. I feel as though it's time for me to fully let my personality go. Just be myself. There's nothing holding me back now. "I'm a young guy, but I'm considered a vet and vets can speak. (Jamari) Lattimore gave a heck of a halftime speech against the Cowboys and you saw what happened that game. I said, 'OK, it's time I take some leadership myself.'" In the two years Daniels has been on the team, he has established himself as someone with a relentless desire to get to the ball and an indefatigable energy. He tries to inspire teammates with hustle and vocal encouragement. However, he has been respectful of the older players on defense such as Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly, Tramon Williams and Clay Matthews and tried not to overstep his bounds. Now, he feels like he's got enough bones to push his agenda. It's not known if the Packers will bring back Pickett, Jolly and C.J. Wilson, three unrestricted free agents, so it's very possible Daniels could be the senior man on the defensive line next season. Even if they do come back, he figures there's a role for him. One of the things he wants to do is reset the dial for younger players on defense such as Datone Jones, Casey Hayward, Jerel Worthy, Nick Perry and Josh Boyd. He said those are the players general manager Ted Thompson acquired with the hopes of building a defense as rugged as Seattle and San Francisco's. He doesn't think all of them have fully tapped into their true physical nature. He said it's not too late for them to form the nucleus of a dominant defense. "When you're younger, you're a little more impressionable, it's easier to get (to them) than a guy who's been doing it for six or seven years," Daniels said. "I want to get my hands on those young guys. "I've been in Josh Boyd and Datone's ears a lot. Even my own peers, Perry, Hayward, Worthy, (Jarrett) Boykin, I've been after all those guys. We have to get this done. We're third-year guys. Seems like yesterday we were rookies, but we're no longer rookies. It's time to go. It's time for us to be leaders and so let's lead. Instead of complaining about we need leaders, be the leader." Daniels said he thought the defense bought into coach Mike McCarthy's challenge that it play a more physical brand of football and bring an edge to its game. He said in training camp and the early part of the season, it was evident the defense was on a mission.
Packers' Mike Daniels eyes defensive leadership role
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Jan 31