We didn’t really put a lot of stock in this because Tuesday was the first day of minicamp, but Brad Jones wasn’t running with the No. 1 defense at inside linebacker. Jamari Lattimore was.
#Packers first-team defense early in practice: Raji, Daniels, Peppers, Neal, Lattimore, Hawk, Tramon, Hayward, Shields, Hyde, Burnett.
— Paul Imig (@Paulimig) June 17, 2014
Last year, Lattimore demonstrated the playmaking ability that the Green Bay Packers have lacked at inside linebacker since before Desmond Bishop got hurt. He did that as an injury replacement for Jones.
Of course, the Packers gave Jones his job back when he returned because that’s how they operate. Not surprisingly, the level of play at the position went right back to mediocre.
We didn’t really expect the Packers to give Lattimore a chance to unseat Jones or the other mediocre starting inside linebacker, A.J. Hawk, this year. They’ve stubbornly stuck with veteran starters at that position over emerging talent since Mike McCarthy has been at the helm.
Why would this year be any different?
Well, maybe because McCarthy got tired of having an underachieving defense and decided to retool the whole scheme to fit his personnel earlier this offseason.
Before you get too excited, no one on the coaching staff is ready to say Lattimore is or could be the starter.
“Brad’s our starter, until I’m told otherwise,” linebackers coach Winston Moss said. “Brad has fought through injuries as of late, (but) when Brad is healthy and Brad is dialed in, Brad was playing his (expletive) off as well. We’ve got some guys who are very capable of being good vs. the run, can cover vs. the pass and can blitz the quarterback.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
That does not excite us. What does excite us is the Packers are increasing Lattimore’s role. They’re also giving him a shot to run with the No. 1 defense, albeit during minicamp.
If the Packers are done being stubborn about it, we could have a real competition between Jones and Lattimore for a starting inside linebacker job.
That, would be tremendous.