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Audition for Outside Linebackers to Take Place Sunday

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Audition for Outside Linebackers to Take Place Sunday

The Packers will hold an audition of sorts at right outside linebacker in the final game of the regular season when the Detroit Lions come to Lambeau Field on Sunday.

The linebacker spot opposite Clay Matthews has been a trouble spot for the Packers for most of the season, and they're looking for their best available option as the team gets ready for the playoffs.

Despite starting every game this season at right outside linebacker, Erik Walden has been taken out of the past two games when the outcome of each game has still been in question.

Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, paraphrasing head coach Mike McCarthy as his Thursday press conference, wrote, "Walden won't play whole game against Detroit. Will look at other guys at ROLB."

According to a report from Tom Silverstein in today's Journal Sentinel, part of the reason Walden was taken out of the recent win over the Bears was due to an illness from which he lost seven pounds overnight.

Regardless of the illness, Walden has been a hit and miss performer for the Packers this season. While he's strung together several good games, he's been M.I.A in others.

Pass rush is Walden's strong suit, but he's only registered three sacks on the season as the Packers rush in general has stagnated. Green Bay hasn't had a sack in the past two weeks. Meanwhile, run defense has been Walden's Achilles Heel.

To be fair, though, Walden has probably been the best among all the options available to the Packers this season.

Frank Zombo has missed a majority of the season with a variety of injuries, and when he has played, he hasn't flashed like he did in his rookie season.

Vic So'oto has missed his fair share of time due to injury as well. After a promising preseason, a weight lifting injury to his back hasn't helped the raw undrafted rookie.

Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore have been far better on special teams than they have on defense.

With Sunday's game having no playoff implications for the Packers, one of the more interesting developments will be what happens at outside linebacker as the Lions come to town.

There's also the possibility that as one of the Packers' more valuable players, Matthews will be taken out of Sunday's game to avoid injury, opening up another spot for more playing time at the position.

By the coaching staff acknowledging there will be a rotation, any player that takes advantage of this opportunity has the chance to be a major factor in the playoffs.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (5) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Cole's picture

Time for So Oto to shine.

cow42's picture

competition is good.
someone's gonna step up.

my money's on zombo.

none of the options are great but i think zbo - when healthy - has the best combination of run-stop/ pass-rush/ assignment understanding of the 5... none of them can cover so i'm not going to even include that.

plus i think frank has the biggest 'heart'.

Bearmeat's picture

All the options suck. Kinda like all the options at all of Big Sexy's former spot.

TT always drafts the best player available, and in most cases it pays off with sheer odds. For example, who could have guessed that Smith would look so good at ILB? Or Newhouse at LT?

But in these two cases, it has not paid off at all. TT has let established vets go, and none of his picks have stepped up. It's what ails the D more than anything else. (And that's a substantial list).

We just all have to hope that ROLB and DL holds up for the next 4 games (hopefully). Then TT can spend some high draft choices on these spots he's ignored in the offseason. Or perhaps even (gasp) Free Agency.

johnny d's picture

I'd like to see Dez Bishop out at ROLB, drop Smith in his spot, maybe a good idea?? happy new year Packer fans!!

Good Old 66's picture

Unless Walden steps it up or So'oto plays out of his mind, I'm thinking Zombo will win it.

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