Packers Stare Down Depth Chart At Outside Linebacker

Frank Zombo and Diyral Briggs discuss the prospect of playing time at a position hit hard by injuries.

With both Brady Poppinga and Brad Jones landing on season-ending injured reserve this week, the Packers had to dig deep to fill out their roster. Not only that, they're now faced with playing their newly acquired players with very little preparation.

The Packers added four new players this week, two of them outside linebackers. And head coach Mike McCarthy let them know yesterday that their quickest route to playing time isn't necessarily on defense.

"I’m excited about having the three linebackers," said McCarthy. "Particularly, and what I told them in the team meeting [Wednesday], they are going to have an opportunity to make an impact on our special teams. I think our special teams improved. I thought they were productive against Minnesota and we have had a lot of change, but I think there is definitely more to get out of our special-teams units.

"They will be given that opportunity first, and frankly just having fresh bodies out there, and we’ll get them acclimated to our system as fast as we can. It’s good to have all three of those guys."

From first impressions, the new players seem to have gotten that message.

One of the new additions, Diyral Briggs, played on special teams for the Denver Broncos as recently as last weekend.

"I think any team you come into, that's the first way to step onto the field because special teams are very important," said Briggs. "And if you're making plays on special teams, which is very hard–I think that's the hardest play in the NFL–if you happen to make plays on that, playing on offense or defense should be easy for guys that are coming into the system."

Because Briggs hasn't really had any time off and because he became acclimated to the thin air of the Rocky Mountains, he thinks he's in the proper conditioning to contribute.

If Briggs is pressed into action on defense, he thinks his ability to generate a pass rush is one of his best assets.

"I'd say pass rushing, getting to the quarterback," said Briggs. "It's something I've always been able to do. But I think also I'm a great pass dropper. I think I can very enough cover some guys, and make plays definitely. I'm starting to be able to do both, but my passion is pass rushing, getting to the quarterback."

For the time being, however, it looks as if undrafted rookie Frank Zombo will be getting the start at outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews.

If he impresses and stays healthy, the starting job could be Zombo's for the rest of the season.

"You never want to earn a spot like this if a guy gets injured, especially Brad who's a good friend," said Zombo. "But it's a good opportunity and for the team, I have to take advantage of it. With my ability, I feel confident, and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Adding depth at the position could be Brandon Chillar who got an extended look at outside linebacker during the preseason.

The Packers eventually decided to go with a combination of Jones, Zombo and Poppinga coming out of training camp, but Chillar probably has a better knowledge of Dom Capers' defensive system than the newbies.

Robert Francois and newly signed Eric Walden provide depth, but don't figure to get much playing time, at least night right away.

But with injuries occurring the way they've been with the Packers, nothing is out of the realm of possibility.

0 points

Comments (8)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
alfredomartinez's picture

October 28, 2010 at 06:57 pm

ZOMMMMBOOOOOO!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
charlie's picture

October 28, 2010 at 07:52 pm

So nice I'll say it twice: ZOM - BOOOOOOOOOH!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Ron LC's picture

October 28, 2010 at 07:56 pm

Has Zombo paid up his medical insurance. He's right in the bullseye of the OLB curse now. And, let's not forget CM3's perpetual hamstring. Please great football god let the Packers through this game without another season ending injury.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PkrNboro's picture

October 28, 2010 at 08:21 pm

At the rate of 10 players per 7 games, I calculate that 23 players will be on IR by the end of the season. My God, that's half an "active" game-day roster !!! Surely, we're gonna rise up and beat the hell outta some people to even things out !! (I don't think the Jets are soooo cool, that they're going to wing six straight...)

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Mr. Bacon's picture

October 28, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Thats going to be alot of superbowl rings to be given out.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
ONeill's picture

October 29, 2010 at 01:18 am

Best comment all year.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
nerdmann's picture

October 28, 2010 at 11:57 pm

We'll pick up Merriman. I like Zombo too, but he's a year away.
I just want to reiterate that we should be thanking our lucky stars we have a GM like TT. How many other teams could lose 5 starters, 10 players (Not including Jolly) and still be competitive? We have a very, very deep team. We could still go all the way. If we start showing up for 60 minutes, week after week.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
ONeill's picture

October 29, 2010 at 01:19 am

I completely agree. The first half of this year has been a real testament to Ted Thompson being an outstanding GM.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.