Category Archives: Linebackers

16

April

Matthews Still Recovering From Injury

Clay Matthews

Matthews says he will be ready for training camp. The Packers hope he’s right.

A recent conversation between Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and USA Today’s Tom Pelissero revealed that Matthews is still not 100% healed from a repeat thumb injury suffered late in the 2013 season.  ESPN’s Rob Demovsky featured the conversation in a recent article at ESPN.com.

Matthews explained, in more detail, what happened with each injury and how doctors chose to address the second break in December.  Here is an excerpt:

“And unfortunately, on a sack of Roethlisberger, the tip of my thumb [hit] my teammate’s helmet. All that pressure went down the cast, broke it again. So then, to make it tighter, we took part of the tendon, turned it around, drilled some holes and they almost tied a knot through. It’s stronger than [the left one]. Now it’s super tight.”

The Packers defense is just not the same without Matthews on the field.  Since appearing in at least 15 games in his first three seasons, Matthews has missed 11 games over the past two years, including last season’s wild card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.  Had the Packers advanced and made a serious push for a Super Bowl appearance, Matthews may have returned and played.

It still bears mentioning that a player who plays with the type of intensity as Matthews does is likely to be more vulnerable to injury.  Although Matthews says he will be ready by training camp, everyone heals differently.  The thumb can be a tricky injury with all of the bones and tendons connected to both the hand, wrist and arm.

Matthews should be able to make a return but even if he does and based on averages, he will likely miss some time this upcoming season for whatever reason.  The Packers need to prepare accordingly at the outside linebacker position.  With a healthy Matthews and Nick Perry, the possibilities are many and scary for opposing offenses.  But the “healthy” part has not come easy in the two seasons that tandem has existed.  They have appeared together in just 14 games over those two years.

3

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: LB Shayne Skov

 

Shayne Skov

LB Shayne Skov

Packers prospect profile:  LB  Shayne Skov

Player Information:

Shayne Skov  LB, Stanford,  6-2, 245 pounds  Hometown: Guadalajara, Mexico

STATS

NFL Combine:

Did not participate in Combine and to date, has not participated in any pre-draft drills

News and Notes:

Started nine games as a true freshman in 2009. . .led Stanford in tackles in 2010. . .lost the 2011 season to an ACL injury. . .was instrumental in Stanford’s run to the PAC-12 title and Rose Bowl run in 2013. . .2013 All PAC-12 first-team. . .very upbeat and vocal leader

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Ideal size and temperament for the inside linebacker position. Possesses broad shoulders, a trim middle and thick lower-body. Terrific instincts and physicality. A tone-setter in the middle, who frequently made big plays at key moments for the Cardinal. Demonstrated more explosiveness in 2013, in his second season removed from a torn ACL. Explodes through holes in the offensive line to make emphatic tackles in the backfield. Aggresive in taking on and shedding blockers in the hole. Displayed greater patience in 2013 when breaking down with ball-carriers in the open field because he has regained his explosive closing ability. This has led to less lunging by Skov and more secure textbook tackling. Likely limited to inside linebacker duties in a 3-4 alignment due to the fact that he does not possess ideal speed to beat backs to the edge, nor the fluidity for extensive coverage responsibilities. Working to break a bad habit of lunging. Over-aggression caused Skov to take himself out of too many plays early in his career.
  • NFL.com:  Outstanding instincts and recognition — plays much faster than he clocks on a stopwatch. Goes full throttle and plays very hard. Times up the blitz extremely well. Explosive tackler. Alert in coverage.  Intense emotional leader. Has a love for the game and it shows. Ideal special-teams temperament.  Marginal foot speed — limited twitch and agility to adjust to movement in coverage and could be exposed by NFL backs and tight ends. Can play with too much abandon and recklessly miss some tackles flying to the ball (out of control). Long-term durability is a concern — has already had multiple knee surgeries.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • As I always disclaim, this is a “highlight” reel
3

February

Jamari Lattimore 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  You know how the backup quarterback is the most popular player on a bad team? Angry fans want the bum of a starter bench and are convinced that the backup QB can come in and save the season. Lattimore was the backup quarterback of the Packers defense for a stretch this season. Fans thought the starters stunk, and Lattimore was the answer.

2) Profile: Jamari Lattimore

  • Age: 25
  • Born: 10/6/88 in Miami, FL
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 237
  • College: Middle Tennessee State
  • Rookie Year: 2011
  • NFL Experience: 3 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Play on special teams. If you’re judging Lattimore only on his special teams contribution, he had a good season.But he was forced into the starting lineup after Brad Jones got hurt in October and the results were mixed. Lattimore did look a savior early, but faded late.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: According to Pro Football Focus, Lattimore totaled 13 “stops” over a five-game stretch in October. He only managed three stops the rest of the season. Lattimore looked explosive rushing the passer and one of the few Packers defenders who could lay a hit on a running back in October. Come November and December, Lattimore looked slow to react and not nearly as explosive. He did deal with some injuries later in the season, so maybe that slowed him down.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: When Lattimore filled in for Jones in October, you never even knew Jones was gone. He looked like another Ted Thompson “who is this guy?” success story. That optimism faded later in the season, but maybe it’ll return again in 2014.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Lattimore didn’t play any snaps from scrimmage in the playoff loss to San Francisco and assisted on two tackles on special teams duty.

Season Report Card:

(C+) Level of expectations met during the season

(C) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: C

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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31

January

Brad Jones 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Green Bay Packers, Brad Jones, Brad Jones Packers, Brad Jones Report Card, Packers Report Card1) Introduction: After Aaron Kampman left the Packers following the 2009 season, it was thought that seventh round draft pick Brad Jones could be a suitable replacement.   Jones had four sacks his rookie season in relief of an injured Kampman and that showed the Packers enough that maybe he could be a decent linebacker. However, thanks to the emergence of Clay Matthews and Desmond Bishop, Jones was relegated to the bench in 2010 and 2011.  However, in 2012 Jones started 10 games and was rewarded with a three-year $11.75 million contract.  Bishop was released this offseason following a hamstring injury, so the Packers were all in with Jones as one of their inside linebackers.

2) Profile: Nate Palmer

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 04/01/1986 in Lansing, MI
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 242
  • College: Colorado
  • Rookie Year: 2009
  • NFL Experience: 5 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: With Bishop gone and signing a big new contract, Jones had to perform this season.  The release of Bishop was met with a lot of skepticism at the time as was the contract Jones signed.  GM Ted Thompson had to have been convinced Jones could a difference maker at the inside linebacker spot. Jones moved to the inside spot in 2012 and had a little bit of a learning curve to go with it.  Thompson obviously was convinced Jones had the ability or he would not have offered Jones such a juicy contract.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Jones had a forced fumble and recovery in the Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and had a 12-tackle and one sack effort in a loss to the New York Giants in Week 11.  Jones’ low-light was that he missed four games due to a hamstring injury that nagged him throughout the season.  In a year where the Packers were decimated by injuries, none were hit harder than inside linebacker where AJ Hawk was the only player healthy for all 16 games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Jones had some good moments, but he was a major liablity in coverage and was a definite downgrade from a healthy Desmond Bishop. Jones’ tackling also left a lot to be desired and he often was a liability in the run game as well.  Thanks to his hamstring, the Packers were forced to shuffle people all around in the linebacker unit and that affected how well the defense played.  Did Jones live up to the contract that was given to him before the season? No, but that was in some ways due to the hamstring injury that hindered his speed.

30

January

A.J. Hawk 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Green Bay packers, A.J. Hawk, A.J. Hawk Packers, Packers report card1) Introduction:  A.J. Hawk, the player most Packers fans love to hate. Ever since he was taken in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, fans have come to either appreciate or despise him.  As a player taken in the top five of the draft, Hawk was immediately slapped with a label of being an immediate contributor and someone who would be a superstar in years to come.  Unfortunately,those expectations never did quite pan out for Hawk and some fans have resented him ever since.  All Hawk has become however is a consistent linebacker who comes to work every day and plays all around solid football.  Many hoped he’d become what Clay Matthews is, but Hawk doesn’t need to be that.

2) Profile: A.J. Hawk

  • Age: 30
  • Born: 01/06/1984 in Kettering, OH
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 247
  • College: Ohio State
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Experience: 8 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Entering his eighth season in the league, people finally knew what to expect from Hawk.  He won’t be a stud linebacker who will put up double digit sacks every year and make the Pro Bowl year after year, but he will be someone who answers the bell every day and gets the work done as the quarterback of the defense.  Hawk has missed only two games in his entire career and with the release of Desmond Bishop during training camp, all eyes were on Hawk to anchor the middle of the linebacker unit.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: As stated above, Hawk is the model of consistency.  There was not really one game where Hawk made you want to pull your hair out.  For a unit that was basically wiped out by injury, particularly at the inside position, that’s a good thing.  He did drop off a bit after his stellar start the year had people whispering Pro Bowl, but he still was not a liability despite being surrounded by inexperienced players.  Hawk’s best game came against the Baltimore Ravens where he sacked Joe Flacco three times.  For a player who never made flashy plays, this was a huge eye opener on Hawk.

30

January

Clay Matthews 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers, Clay Matthews headshot, Clay Matthews Packers.1) Introduction:What else can be said about Clay Matthews that hasn’t already been said?  With the departure of Charles Woodson, Matthews officially became the heart and soul of the Green Bay Packers’ defense.  Aside from Aaron Rodgers, Matthews is the one player the Packers can ill afford to lose to injury.  For the past few seasons, he has been pretty much the entire Green Bay pass rush though GM Ted Thompson selected players in the past two drafts to try and alleviate some of that pressure on the Claymaker.  Unfortunately, Matthews is also usually good for one or two injuries a season, and it’s probably his hamstring.  With a brand new contract in hand that he signed before the 2013 season, Matthews is clearly the MVP of the defense and big things were expected in 2013.

2) Profile: Clay Matthews III

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 05/14/1986 in Northridge, California
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 255
  • College: USC 12.
  • Rookie Year: 2009
  • NFL Experience: 5 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Now that he is the richest linebacker in NFL history, Matthews was expected to carry the defense on his back.  Though Thompson had brought Nick Perry in 2012 and Datone Jones this season to aid the pass rush, Matthews still was the center of the defense. Another double digit sack season and Pro Bowl appearance is in order every year for a player of his caliber and 2013 was no different.  In fact, thanks to the presence of Perry and Jones, it was expected to be an unleashed Matthews that was on the field in 2013.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Matthews had one of his best games of the season in the 26-26 tie against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 12 which was his only multiple sack game of the season. He also had two forced fumbles in the loss to the Bengals in Week 2 and had eight tackles and a sack against the 49ers in Week 1.  It was arguably Matthews who kept the Packers in position to win the season opener at San Francisco.  His biggest low-light of 2013 was his thumb which he managed to break twice during the season.  His missed Weeks 6-9 and then broke the same thumb again in Week 16, causing him to miss the regular season finale and the wild card game against the 49ers.

29

January

Packers Linebacker Up For Major NFL Award

Packers LB Brad Jones

The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is given to a NFL player for his contributions off the field – Photo by Ray Rivard.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Brad Jones has been nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.  The award’s winner will be announced this coming Super Bowl weekend.

Among Jones’ charitable efforts are:

Brown County Human Services Department Pals Program

Families of Children with Cancer 

Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley 

Sister Bay Lions Club 

WPS Health Insurance Pro vs. G.I. Joe program 

Campbell’s Chunky Soup Click for Cans competition, which donated food to Wisconsin food pantries 

Mike and Jessica McCarthy Golf Invitational for the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison 

Packers’ Draft Day parties

Green Bay Packers Golf Invitational

 

Often times, the efforts of these players off the field aren’t as widely seen or known and this is a nice showing for Jones, who has become a regular in the Packers defense over the past two seasons.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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