The Green Bay Packers did indeed add a linebacker to the mix today, but not anyone of note.
The Packers were forced to make a move after Clay Matthews went down with a hamstring injury on Saturday. Only six of the 11 linebackers on the roster practiced yesterday. Matthews is expected to be out at least two weeks.
The Packers added linebacker Maurice Simpkins, who played for the Green Bay Blizzard of the Indoor Football League. Simpkins played collegiately at Coastal Carolina and was first team All-IFL and the league’s most improved player.
Cornerback Josh Bell injured his foot on Saturday and was expected to be out for some time. He was also pretty far down the depth chart and was unlikely to make the team.
Bell, who gave up the winning touchdown to Mike Wallace in the Steelers come from behind win over the Packers last season, was behind Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Al Harris, Brandon Underwood, Pat Lee, Jarrett Bush and possibly even undrafted rookie free agent Sam Shields on the depth chart.
The Packers will likely keep six cornerbacks and although Bell has started in the NFL — in 2008 for the Denver Broncos — he’s never developed into a serviceable option.
It will be interesting to see how the move affects the Packers long term. Coach Mike McCarthy openly regretted putting Pat Lee on injured reserve during training camp last season after the Packers lost Harris and Will Blackmon during the season. A player who ends up on injured reserve isn’t eligible to play until the following season.
The Packers finished the season with Bush and Bell playing more minutes than they would have liked, but the team looks to be in a stronger position at cornerback this year.
In some positive injury news, linebacker Brady Poppinga, who was out with a concussion, was cleared to return to practice.