Dan Arkush of Pro Football Weekly has this little nugget buried at the end of a post about the right outside linebacker spot being wide open for competition heading into the 2011 season.
Jones and Walden are more athletic and better at dropping into coverage than Zombo, but Zombo is a lot stouter at the point of attack and looks like he will continue to improve as a pass rusher. Don't rule out Jones moving inside should Nick Barnett leave — a possibility head coach Mike McCarthy mentioned to team insiders at the NFL Scouting Combine.
I must have missed this either at the podium or out in the hallway - although he could have said it to Dan or one of the PFW guys at a different time in Indy.
It's an intriguing idea. Jones showed a surprising ability to take on blocks his rookie year, something that would help him if he was being asked to take on the interior lineman he'd end up taking on at inside linebacker. Jones is actually a tad bigger than Barnett (Jones is listed at 6'3", 242; Barnett is listed at 6'2", 236) though I'm not sure Jones is as athletic. The key would be how Jones would handle the pounding on the inside and my hunch is that he could handle it.
Of course, none of this comes into play unless the Packers actually move on from Barnett, which I am not sure is a foregone conclusion. It sounds like he wants to remain a Packer. He would most likely need to take a paycut to do so. He is slated to make $5.5 million in 2011 and $6 million in 2012 (along with roster and workout bonuses). After the Packers extended Desmond Bishop and re-signed A.J. Hawk to what is essentially starters money, it's hard to believe they would keep Barnett around at his current numbers, provided the next CBA reinstates a salary cap system.
Obviously, a lot needs to play out. But McCarthy and the Packers are clearly looking at every scenario and possibility in regards to their linebacking corps.
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