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Depth on Defensive Front Seven a Concern

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Depth on Defensive Front Seven a Concern

GREEN BAY––Added to the injury report on Monday were linebackers Frank Zombo and Brad Jones, which leaves the Packers without much veteran depth in the defensive front seven.

Zombo and Jones joined a group with previously reported injuries sitting out of Monday's practice including defensive lineman Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson and Lawrence Guy.

Looking at the glass half full, only Zombo would appear to be out for a significant amount of time.

"I thought I had a great three weeks of camp, four weeks of camp, did everything right," said Zombo. "Just a little minor setback, and I should get back out there soon and still compete."

Head coach Mike McCarthy wouldn't speculate on how long Zombo would be out but also wouldn't say he's a candidate for injured reserve, which would end his season.

Also at the outside linebacker position, Jones is nursing a knee sprain and did not practice on Monday.

With Zombo and Jones out, Erik Walden is the starter by default at right outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews, although the Packers were perhaps heading in that direction even before injury.

More concerning is the depth behind Matthews and Walden that includes three rookies––Ricky Elmore, Vic So'oto and Jamari Lattimore.

Elmore has largely struggled the month of August, particularly in coverage, which has been a disappointing development from the sixth-round draft choice. The rookie from Arizona had a decent showing on Monday, however, while seeing a decent amount of playing time.

Lattimore, meanwhile, received playing time on the first-string kickoff and punt coverage units this afternoon, which could only be viewed as a positive for the undrafted rookie.

So'oto, on the other hand, had been receiving the most playing time on defense in the exhibition season of the three rookies. But whether he could be counted upon to receive extensive playing time in a game that matters is still questionable.

On the defensive line, Mike Neal, who continues to deal with the after effects of a knee sprain suffered in practice last Tuesday, remains out. Neal is the presumed starter at defensive end, filling in for the departed Cullen Jenkins.

Neal did not play in the Packers' second preseason game against Arizona this past Friday. McCarthy did say that Neal may be able to return to practice later in the week.

Wilson also did not practice on Monday after leaving last week's game with a concussion. Wilson had been practicing with the starters in Neal's place.

Both Wilson and rookie Lawrence Guy sustained concussions and are going through testing before they can return to practice.

Guy originally sustained a concussion in the first few days of training camp but returned to practice and game action, only to be pulled out again.

With neither Neal or Wilson available on Monday, third-year defensive end Jarius Wynn took a majority of the snaps in their place.

If any of Neal, Wilson or Guy are unavailable for a lengthy amount of time, the Packers may have to consider making a transaction to add depth to the defensive line.

B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Howard Green and Wynn were the Packers' only veteran options on the defensive line during Monday's practice.

Undrafted rookie Chris Donaldson did return to action this afternoon after being held out of last week's preseason game with a shoulder injury.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

AJKUHN's picture

Time for TT to go shopping soon. I will still yell Zombo randomly and for no apparent reason during Fridays game.

retiredgrampa's picture

It's really bad luck that the leading candidate for the job is the one who gets hurt but that's the NFL for you. I hope MM doesn't put him on IR because he could probably get back in the 2nd half of the season, when we'll be nursing other injuries. His "comeback soon" attitude shows the player he is. Of course, that takes up one of our roster spots but we'll need his talent the last half.

deelux523's picture

How fast can Spencer Havner learn OLB?

LACheez's picture

can Lofa Tatupu play OLB? or was he strictly an inside guy? either way...might not be bad to have another vet.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture


FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Several years ago he was an undersized pro bowl mlb, now he is just undersized. Theres a reason seattle felt he was expendable. His play has been poor the last couple years, and he is "injury prone".

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Sorry about the double post

DAWG's picture

Neal and D-line worries me the most,lets hope he's not another Harrell.
His collage and pro days not god indicators at this point.
TT kicking himself Im sure. JJ or Jenkens?

asshalo's picture

The only one of those that really worries me in Neal-- both in what he means to the team's success and from what I am gathering about his injury. Everything I have read and heard is a little shady. I hope the packers aren't hiding something that will land him on the PUP list and then miss some games after that.

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