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No Need To Panic About Inside Linebacker Depth

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No Need To Panic About Inside Linebacker Depth

One of the questions I've been asked with great frequency over the course of the last three days is what the Packers plan to do behind Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk at inside linebacker.

While its understandable that fans see the departures of Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar and worry about the depth at the position, there's no need to panic three days into camp. I've seen people go so far as to say the Packers have "nothing" behind Hawk and Bishop, which seems awfully premature. Robert Francois is entering his second year with the team after bouncing back and forth between outside and inside linebacker during last years camp. Cardia Jackson, who signed to the Packers practice squad last December after being in camp with the Rams, was Francois' running mate inside on Monday night with the second string defense and more than held his own.

Its surprising to me to see fans be so dismissive of a set of players after watching guys like Sam Shields and Frank Zombo have the seasons they had last year in this defense. I am in no way shape or form saying either Francois or Jackson can step in right now and play the way Zombo did, let alone Sam Shields. I do think we need to let them - and others - get a few weeks of camp under their belts and watch them in a couple of preseason games before declaring that the Packers have "nothing" behind their starters at inside linebacker.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CSS's picture

When you google 'Packers' 'linebacker' 'panic' the search engine goes directly here. Of course, I'm not sure you could convince that particular audience if they google those words in succession to begin with.....

aussiepacker's picture

I have complete faith in what they are doing but you would have to think they will be watching the waiver wire after the first and second cuts to see if a value player becomes free?

RockinRodgers's picture

Just because these guys aren't big names doesn't mean they aren't good. I trust the players the Packers choose to be on their team. They are smarter than I am.

Ruppert's picture

Fans have to panic about SOMETHING. Face it, there's really nothing else to worry about with this team.

I suppose fans could worry about Cliffy's health, but that's a yearly concern, so it's not a hot-button issue. Beyond that, it's hard to think up anything credible to have concern about.

fishandcrane's picture

That is the problem right there. We have few problems. Blame TT for that!

Clay Toporski's picture

I understand the concern a bit, but I think people expect too much from backups. The Packers organization showed that they can take rookies and turn them into competent starters when needed. I have no convern about the ILB position. Apparently, people forget last season too quickly.

CSS's picture

Completely agree. Effectively executing scheme trumps star play at every position. 4th year of the install in addition to a wicked defensive backfield comfortable in nickle allows supreme flexibility in the game plan.

Finding an assignment sure backup that understands the scheme is more important than making a splash in FA.

PackersRS's picture

I'm listening to Green and Gold today, and there's a moron, nothing short of it, that's clamoring, clamoring for us to trade for Osi. To play OLB. I'm not believing my ears.

Chucking Wood 21's picture


Otto's picture

Hey, leave Trell alone! He's the best caller on that show. No one can get Bill Johnson to melt down faster. It's hysterical.

Chris's picture

I fully agree Aaron, no reason to panic yet. The only issue I have is injury, especially to one of those 2 starting ILBs.

Franklin Hillside's picture

I think the plan is to consistently drop Raji back. This will also take some pressure off the offense to score, as Raji should continue to rack up TDs in this formation.

Chad Toporski's picture

lol... +1

Jersey Al's picture

And "The Raji" dance craze will sweep the nation...

dougie smooth's picture

Ted will work the waiver wire at ILB if he needs to, or pull off a minor trade at the end of camp like he did with Derrick Martin. It won't be Nick Barnett, but we've been spoiled with depth lately and forgot it's a luxury to have a starter-quality player waiting to go.

There's also a log jam at ROLB (Zombo, Walden, Jones, Elmore), and assuming they only carry 4 OLBs on the roster at least one of those guys might have to show some value inside to make the roster. Like Francois, who has clear path to a roster spot because of his inside-outside flexibility. Zombo is bad in the open field. Maybe Jones? I recall him flashing some coverage potential his rookie pre-season.

tony's picture

Why question the depth on this team? It's completely pointless. I'm sure people were pretty scared at the thought of Bishop, Peprah, and Shields getting play time last year, and look at how that turned out.

Backups are backups until they get an opportunity. If Francois has to come in, it wouldn't shock me if he was as productive as the aforementioned players.

spiderpack's picture

Amen Brother tony. You sound like the voice of wisdom.

Oppy's picture


While I'm most decidedly NOT one of the people freaking out about depth, the reason people do, and the reason they'll tell you it's not pointless, is because of players like Tony Moll, Allen Barbre, Jarret Bush (Circa 2009), and maybe even Brandon Jackson.

There are plenty of examples of the depth on this team failing, just as much as there are examples of success.

Otto's picture

Let's be honest, Allen Barbre is the only reason they're freaked out. He may be the worst player/personnel decision in this organization since (the entire) 1980s.
He almost crippled what we now recognize as the best QB in the league.

But, fear not(!) my fellow Packer fans, the midget from Appalachian State (or some other player of normal height) will step up. This isn't as critical a position as offensive tackle.

Ken's picture

But Aaron, if we can't talk about inside LB depth, what are we going to bitch about?

CSS's picture

Everything appears to be stable enough that we should focus on bitching about the bitchers...

jaydubya's picture

I'll bitch if we get stuck in ugly throwback uniforms for the Thanksgiving Day Lions game, but otherwise it seems life is good for now. :-)

Ken's picture

Ha, to confirm, I rarely bitch.

I did slip out a "fire MM" line after the Tampa loss in '09, as close as I've come.

fishandcrane's picture

I wish this medium was here from 1973 to 1993. there were things to bitch about.

Oh here's an idea for Cheese: Once in awhile post a"Flash Past News" like this:
"Packers Trade for Hadl"

If reading that won't get your blood boiling and tears flowing you are a Bear fan.

Ian's picture

ILB is probably the least integral aspect of Capers' defensive schemes anyway. A sure tackler and someone who can zone on backs and tight end drag routes is all GB needs.

Nononsense's picture

Just read on that the Pack signed a ILB name K.C. Asiodu a backup STs guy that spent time with the Rams and one game with the Saints.

Not a big name but at least hes a warm body.

Otto's picture

HA! Take that Philadelphia!

Hofschneider's picture

Nobody mentioned DJ Smith. He will be awesome. He is of those germs TT finds in the draft, everybody passes on because of some reasons, who became completly unimportant. Finley slipped because of personal problems, CM3 slipped because he had techniqual problems, nobody drafted Shields because he just made the transition from WR to CB a year ago.

And now Smith is "too small". I have a feeling he will be just quick on his feed and fast into the hole. Who knows...

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