Packers Suddenly In A Conundrum At Inside Linebacker

News of a hamstring injury to Brandon Chillar and a potential release of Nick Barnett could put the Packers in a precarious position.

With news coming from Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Brandon Chillar may have suffered a potentially serious injury in the offseason, the Packers are suddenly in a precarious position at inside linebacker.

"A source familiar with the team said that linebacker Brandon Chillar suffered a serious hamstring injury that could put his season in jeopardy," writes Silverstein. "Another source said he knew there was an injury issue, but he didn't know the extent of it."

Reports out of Green Bay yesterday were that the Packers informed Nick Barnett he would either be traded or released.

While the Packers would appear to be okay with a starting duo of A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop, they would seem thin without either Barnett or Chillar to back them up.

Hypothetically that might leave 5-11 sixth-round draft choice D.J. Smith as a starter should an injury to occur to either Hawk or Bishop, but it's worth noting that both Hawk and Bishop have been extremely durable throughout their careers.

A somewhat surprising development reported by the Green Bay Press-Gazette was that the agent of Matt Wilhelm––a mid-season pickup last year––was in talks with the team about coming back to the Packers.

Most observers probably didn't think Wilhelm would be back with the Packers this year. Whether Chillar's injury has prompted the Packers to consider signing Wilhelm once again is up for debate. Even so, Wilhelm would probably only be a stopgap option for the Packers. Anything outside of a backup and special teams role may be asking too much for the nine-year veteran.

The only other inside linebacker currently on the roster is Cardia Jackson, who was on the practice squad last season.

Whether news of Chillar's injury is enough to prompt the Packers to reconsider their intentions to either trade or release Barnett is unknown. The team most likely wants to examine Chillar and determine the extent of his injury. According to Silverstein, he hasn't reported to training camp yet.

Once the Packers have a better handle on Chillar's injury, they'll be better equipped to proceed in whatever direction they so choose.

At this point, it can't be ruled out that the Packers may look to add some depth at the position in free agency, though history would indicate that's a long shot.

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Comments (19)

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PkrNboro's picture

July 28, 2011 at 07:41 pm

Next.
Man.
Up.
(redux)

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 28, 2011 at 08:05 pm

Only thing is, they have not had the off-season to work with these guys. You can't plug the new guys in this year like you did last year. This will be interesting.

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PkrNboro's picture

July 28, 2011 at 08:26 pm

It was more of a reference to last season as more and more players hit the IR...

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ZeroTolerance's picture

July 28, 2011 at 07:59 pm

If Barnett were to return it would be with a renew contract.

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bryce's picture

July 28, 2011 at 08:05 pm

Keep Barnett. Last season showed what can happen with lots of injuries. Keep him for one more year, it's worth the money now. Trade Chillar.

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alexwoodsIAM's picture

July 28, 2011 at 08:18 pm

One thing that I noticed about Matt W. while watching NFL replay he was leading the the Linebacking core in their little pregame rally I thought thought that was odd for a mid season pick up player

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aussiepacker's picture

July 28, 2011 at 08:41 pm

I noticed that too as was a little surprised. I suppose he is a nine year veteran.

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asshalo's picture

July 28, 2011 at 08:21 pm

I do remember hearing rumors that the coaches thought Chillar was spent health wise. I hope this is all speculation. It's a shame for him to miss this much football.

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mr.jones's picture

July 28, 2011 at 08:42 pm

Any chance that Brad Jones gets bumped inside? I remember hearing/reading a rumor about this happening in the not too distant past. He's in the same size range as Hawk and Bishop and the main critique of him seemed to be that he was not able to set the edge as an OLB but seemed to possess good read and react instincts.

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PackerAaron's picture

July 28, 2011 at 09:05 pm

No. One of the coaches was asked about this and they said Jones is strictly an OLB.

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Nerdmann's picture

July 28, 2011 at 09:47 pm

Was that before or after the news about Chillar?

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Nerdmann's picture

July 28, 2011 at 09:05 pm

Enter, Brad Jones.
The only thing Wilhelm contributed last year was a huge 15 yard penalty in a clutch (in the bad sense) situation.

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PackerAaron's picture

July 28, 2011 at 09:17 pm

Brad Jones is not playing ILB. Period.

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Nerdmann's picture

July 28, 2011 at 09:46 pm

I ain't stressing over the situation.

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BubbaOne's picture

July 28, 2011 at 09:46 pm

This is a recent post I made on another blog. It's a position I've had for weeks. I do wonder why TT didn't wait to see if Chillar passed his physical before having "the talk" w/ Barnett.

"Conventional wisdom says jettison NB….but he said he’s willing to work w/ the Packers (renegotiate?). He has extra incentive to tow the line; he’s 8 tackles short of the all time Packer record and he wants to help win a title. Dom Capers could make good use of NB in sub pckgs. NB may not be a starter anymore but he could be on the field enough in subs, to satisfy his ego.

Is Chillar healthy after his 3rd shoulder surgery? If not, our ILB backups are Francois, Briggs, and rookie Smith. Doesn’t evoke a lot of confidence and we saw last year how a position of strength can be a weakness w/ one injury.

I’m not beholden to NB, I just don’t think it’s as cut and dried as some fans make it. I think TT has to alter his approach slightly. Always keep an eye on the future but be a little more attentive to the here and now as we have a 3-5 yr window to win multiple championships. A vet like NB may pay dividends more than the draft choice rec’d."

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BubbaOne's picture

July 28, 2011 at 09:51 pm

The specific article was talking about trading NB to K.C.

And Matt Wilhelm didn't come cheap last year, I think it was $2.5 or $3M. If he's talking w/ TT, he could demand a premium knowing NB and Chillar are gone.

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sammer's picture

July 29, 2011 at 08:54 am

If our biggest problem is finding a 4th inside linebacker, it's gonna be another great year.

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BubbaOne's picture

July 29, 2011 at 09:11 am

If Chillar and Barnett are gone, we're talking about the primary backup (3rd ILB).

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sammer's picture

July 29, 2011 at 02:03 pm

I was assuming that DJ Smith earns one of the 4 spots.

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