Category Archives: Jamari Lattimore

5

June

What Is Mike Neal Doing At Outside Linebacker?

Admittedly, the Packers can’t claim to have much depth at outside linebacker at the moment; of course they have one of the best in Clay Matthews III, another 1st round selection they are high on and hope to see marked improvement in Nick Perry and a undrafted free agent looking to make a big jump in year 2 in Dezman Moses.  But that’s pretty much it in terms of actual experience; the Packers did draft Nate Palmer, a projected outside linebacker in the 6th round from Illinois State (much to the chagrin of commenters apparently) but they also did lose Frank Zombo to Kansas City and interestingly Erik Walden to the Colts for a 4-year $16 million contract (this is after the Packers signed Walden last year to a veteran minimum contract worth $700,000).  There has been some speculation that either Brad Jones or Jamari Lattimore, both who joined the Packers as outside linebackers but where converted to inside linebacker last year, could again make the transition back to the outside.

However, one dark horse candidate making headlines in OTAs was Mike Neal.  Just from initial impressions, you have to wonder what the Packers are doing.  2012 1st round pick Nick Perry was a little bit of a “square peg” weighing in a 271 pounds at the draft, but Neal outweighs Perry by a good 25 pounds.  Add to that Neal’s inexperience in playing from a two-point stance, and the multitude of extra responsibilities outside linebackers have (most notably dropping back into coverage) and Mike Neal is probably the last guy you’d think could have a shot at playing outside linebacker. Ironically most 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL are converted 4-3 defense ends, but this is the only occasion I can think of where a college 4-3 DT has been asked to transition to 3-4 outside linebacker.

Yes the Packers are tinkerers during the offseason; they love to mix and match offensive linemen and you’ll see players line up all over the place, but at least in my opinion, most of these were just small experiments to see how players would react to a new position; after all if getting the most out of a player is the main goal of a coaching staff, it would make sense to see how much positional versatility or even positional potential each player has.  Again, I would argue that if Neal had been a complete disaster the moment he lined up at linebacker (and I don’t think that should be a fault on him), the Packers probably would have pulled the plug on that idea in a hurry.  However, it does seem like the Packers like what they have seen and are willing to expand the experiment further.

11

March

If Brad Jones Leaves, Packers Affected More Than You Think

 

Jones has garnered much interest in free agency.  If he departs, Jones could create a big void at inside linebacker for the Packers

Jones has garnered much interest in free agency. If he departs, Jones could create a big void at inside linebacker for the Packers

With free agency somewhat underway in that teams are free to contact players’ agents to discuss a deal, much of the talk in Green Bay has centered around wide receiver Greg Jennings.  Jennings is unquestionably the marquis name out of Green Bay that has very solid potential to be wearing a different uniform this next season.  He has even been debated as the top free agent receiver on the market with Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace the other half of that conversation.

But lost in the shuffle are some of the other free-agents-to-be in Green Bay, one of which is linebacker Brad Jones.  According to a piece published by Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel, at least eight other teams have already contacted Jones’ agent.

Jones filled in for the injured DJ Smith in week six last season and remained the starter for the balance of the season.  He did an adequate job in that role and gained some valuable playing time in the defense.  With 2012 being Jones’ fourth in the team’s defensive scheme and with his contributions on special teams, Jones has become a stronger veteran presence on this roster.

Now I’m not saying that Jones is a “must sign”.  If eight teams have already expressed interest, he will surely have some options to choose from, outside of Green Bay, when Tuesday rolls around.  As a reminder, Tuesday is the first day that free agent deals can be finalized.  But in possibly losing Jones, it does change the perspective of what the Packers may do in the draft and in free agency.

Many of you will recall that the Packers are hoping to get solid veteran linebacker Desmond Bishop and third year backer DJ Smith back in 2013.  While there is a good chance that both will return, it is not a given.

Bishop needed to have his hamstring re-attached to the bone.  He has been rehabbing the injury and has expressed his readiness when camp opens this summer, but that is going to be left up to the medical staff.  My guess is that Bishop will be on a snap count initially and so therefore is a bit of a question mark.

21

February

Will the Packers Remain Uncomfortably Married to A.J. Hawk?

AJ Hawk

Cut him or keep him? The Packers might just stay uncomfortably married to AJ Hawk.

The topic of A.J. Hawk gets debated to death by Packers fans every offseason.

Some fans view Hawk as an overpaid bust who has no business on the field. Others view him as a serviceable player even though he hasn’t lived up to his status as a high draft pick. A few delusional fans even think some other team would trade a first or second day draft choice for Hawk.

If I were in charge of the Packers, I’d release Hawk. If released after *June 1, it would save $5.45 million against the salary cap — money that could be used to extend Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji — and cut ties with a player who hasn’t forced a turnover since 2010 and didn’t break up a single pass in 2012.

Hawk has always been a ho-hum player. I believe the Packers committed to him because they weren’t sure about their other options. The Packers were the 35-year-old woman who married a guy that wasn’t quite perfect, but time was running out and the other options were iffy. Settling on Hawk was better than being left alone and vulnerable (with a house full of cats).

Here’s the big question regarding Hawk’s future in Green Bay: Are there finally some other options for the Packers this offseason?

Desmond Bishop is a high-energy playmaker. D.J. Smith is capable. Brad Jones proved his worth after Bishop and Smith got hurt. Terrell Manning and Jamari Lattimore are young players who could emerge if given a chance. Do those players give the Packers enough confidence to divorce Hawk? What if Thompson drafts a physically gifted middle linebacker early in the draft?

On paper, you would think so. But can Ted Thompson really be swept off his feet by two guys coming off major knee injuries, a career backup (who is also a free agent), two kids who have never played a meaningful snap, or a draft pick?

Perhaps the names are a bit sexier this time around, but when you look beneath the surface, the Packers might decide to stay uncomfortably married to Hawk. He had 157 tackles last season, and he at least tries to play physical, even if he isn’t talented enough to make much of an impact.

20

February

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Inside Linebackers

Packers Inside Linebackers:  If nothing else, the 2012 team showed us how deep we are at inside linebacker. After losing two starters in Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith, the Packers were still able to keep things together with Brad Jones in the lineup. The caveat, however, is that while the group is deep, there are no real “blue chip” players to be found.

(Note: Listen to the combined linebackers podcast at the end of this article:)

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects:

A.J. Hawk (1st Round, 2006)
Desmond Bishop (6th Round, 2007)
Brad Jones (7th Round, 2009)
Robert Francois (UDFA, 2009)
D.J. Smith (6th Round, 2011)
Jamari Lattimore (UDFA, 2011)
Terrell Manning (5th Round, 2012)

For all the talk of the deficiencies at defensive line and outside linebacker, we seem to forget about the fact that inside linebacker is leaving us with something to be desired. It’s not a horrible group by any means, but there’s also nothing special about it. Desmond Bishop is currently the best player of the bunch, A.J. Hawk isn’t worth his contract weight, D.J. Smith was a bit of a disappointment this year, and despite his solid play, Brad Jones wasn’t much of a playmaker either. Terrell Manning seems to be the current roster’s last shred of hope among an otherwise lackluster crew, but he needs to make it onto the field first and foremost.

  • Hawk: Even though A.J. Hawk had one of his best years in 2012, it was still not great. He’s no Vince Young when it comes to first round busts, but he lacks the playmaking ability and athleticism you would expect from a player drafted at his position. His work ethic and football intelligence have kept him around for seven frustrating years, though it’s clear his salary will be more than his worth in 2013. The Packers could save $5.45 million in cap space by releasing Hawk.
  • Bishop: It’s hard to believe that Desmond Bishop will be going into his seventh season in 2013, because it took him so long to gain a starting role. His lack of consistency held him back until Nick Barnett’s season-ending injury in 2010. Since then, he has proven himself to be a hard-charged thumper that brings an attitude to the defense. More of a red chip than a blue chip player, he is easily the best inside linebacker on the squad right now.
6

February

Packers Jamari Lattimore: 2012 Player Evaluation and Report Card

Jamari Lattimore

Jamari Lattimore

1) Introduction: Jamari Lattimore was one of the Packers’ undrafted free agent projects in 2011. He has floated between the outside and inside linebacker positions during practices, but Lattimore’s live game experiences have come exclusively at outside linebacker. Aside from that, he’s been just another special teams player.

2) Profile:

Jamari Lattimore

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 10/06/1988, in Miami, FL
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 237
  • College: Middle Tennessee State
  • Rookie Year: 2011
  • NFL Experience: 2 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: There was never too much to get excited about with Jamari Lattimore. Making it onto the 53-man roster is an accomplishment in and of itself, but beyond that, there was never any real chance of him becoming a starter. He’s been relegated to the back-up role and special teams core player.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: How many times can one make the highlight reel on special teams?

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: With only seven combined tackles on the year, Jamari Lattimore is nothing to write home about. He played the fourth-most snaps on special teams units with 269, so that counts for something, however small. Lattimore also filled in at left outsidel linebacker for eight snaps against the Arizona Cardinals, but didn’t do much with them.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Nothing of note outside of his normal special teams duties.

 

Season Report Card:

(D) Level of expectations met during the season

(D-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(D-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: D-

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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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23

January

Packers Stock Report: End of Season, Full Roster Edition

CB Tramon Williams and S Morgan Burnett fight for an interception against the Saints

Packers CB Tramon Williams found himself in the falling category. Safety Morgan Burnett was steady.

The Packers end of season, full roster stock report is upon us. Below are over 2,300 words of insight, analysis, opinions and nonsense about every player currently on the Packers roster.

Read closely and enjoy, because many of these players likely won’t be around in 2013.

I incorporated each player’s performance from this season, and their future outlook while categorizing. Please agree or disagree in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading the weekly stock reports. Onto the last one:

Rising

Aaron Rodgers
It wasn’t as great as his MVP campaign, but it was still damn good. With chaos and injuries swirling all around, Rodgers kept the Packers offense moving forward and limited mistakes. A fine all-around performance and no reason to think it won’t continue in 2013.

Randall Cobb
With Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson hobbled most of the season, Cobb broke out and turned into the Packers most dangerous weapon. I worry a little about his durability, but his production when healthy was great. Oh, and he needs to drop fewer passes.

DuJuan Harris
Is this too much praise for the 5-foot-7, 210-pound rolling ball of butcher knives? Maybe. But if I’m buying Harris stock, I want in right now. I think he’s going to stick with the Packers and get a chance to make some noise.

Casey Hayward
Lost in the disastrous playoff loss and grumbling about the Packers lack of physicality was Hayward’s dynamic rookie season. I don’t care if the read-option sticks or not, stopping the pass will still be a defense’s top priority and Hayward can do it.

Sam Shields
He’s on the rise now. Will he remain on the rise if the Packers pay him? Or will he morph back into the timid and non-aggressive cornerback of 2011? There’s no denying his raw talent, and I’d like to see him develop that talent as a member of the Packers.

Clay Matthews
Microsoft. Apple. TRowe Price. Fidelity. With the contract that Matthews will get from the Packers, he’ll be able to buy all the stock he wants.

Nick Perry
How can a guy who was hurt most of the season land in this category? The same way Matthews landed in the rising category when he was injured. The Packers can’t afford another season with Erik Walden as the primary outside linebacker opposite Matthews. Perry is rising by default.

14

January

My Top Ten Second Thoughts: Packers vs. 49ers

Packers 49ers Football

Kaepernick Sandwich

Having had some time to sleep on and digest the Packers’ loss to the 49ers, there are 10 things about this game I feel the need to address in a little more detail. Here goes:

Packers coaching philosophy: In the NFL, it’s all about success.  There are no style points, no points for technical brilliance. Find what is working and stick with it. If something’s not working, make adjustments. If something is killing you, throw out the caution book and try anything you can. This last aspect becomes especially true when you’re in a one & done situation like the playoffs. Did the Packers coaching staff do any of this in the 49ers game? No they did not.

DuJuan Harris: Harris had nine carries for 47 yards in the first half – that’s a 5.2 ypc average and three more yards than Frank Gore had. Nine carries in only 8 minutes of possession for the Packers offense is actually pretty impressive. This was the balanced attack McCarthy had been touting as being so important to their success. Harris was given 2 carries on the first plays of the second half (ironically when the Packer’s OL was in mild disarray with Sitton having a problem with his shoe).  He didn’t have another carry the rest of the game. Zero. Zilch. Nada.  How did that work out for the offense, Mike? An adjustment that wasn’t needed.

Jeremy Ross: This isn’t second guessing, but it needs to be addressed with what happened. I thought, said and wrote last week that McCarthy did the right thing in the Vikings game by keeping Cobb on punt returns and using Ross just on kickoff returns. I even praised McCarthy for being so smart about it. Punt and kickoff returns are two completely different animals. On punt returns, ball security trumps everything else. I assumed he would stay with this winning combination so I was shocked when I saw Ross back there to receive the punt. Why? I asked of my TV screen. Unfortunately, we got a perfect example of why not to do it.  Another adjustment that wasn’t needed.