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Erik Walden vs. Frank Zombo

Erik Walden

Walden sacked Cutler three times in week 17.

Three players have been waging a battle for the Green Bay Packers starting right outside linebacker spot — [intlink id=”1335″ type=”category”]Erik Walden[/intlink], [intlink id=”1058″ type=”category”]Frank Zombo[/intlink] and [intlink id=”443″ type=”category”]Brad Jones[/intlink].

The contest appears to be down to two men.

The Press Gazette recently gave Zombo the edge, but today the Journal Sentinel noted Walden is consistently getting more snaps with the No. 1 defense.

Maybe they’re watching two different practices or maybe one source doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Either way, Jones has done nothing to distiguish himself and appears all but formally eliminated from the competition.

Since July 30, the first day of training camp, the Packers have overseen a three-way rotation with Zombo, Walden and Jones alternating day by day as the starter on the right outside opposite Clay Matthews.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday, Walden was No. 1, the first time any of the three had been the starter two days in a row. Jones took more snaps behind Walden on the right side than Zombo, who worked behind Matthews most of the time.

It’s quite possible that the starter won’t be determined until after the third exhibition game. Zombo started Saturday night against Cleveland; it would appear he and Walden are the leading candidates.

As noted, Zombo started the Packers first preseason game and we expect Walden to start Friday’s game. The Packers could give Jones a start next week if they haven’t made up their mind by then.

As far as the players’ primary strengths, Zombo is said to be better against the run and more assignment sure than Walden. That’s to be expected, since he was with the Packers all of last season.

Walden is more explosive and a better pass rusher. He’s capable of making the big play, but also suffers errors in judgment from time to time. As a 2010 midseason pickup without the benefit of an offseason with OTAs and minicamps, it’s probable Walden is still learning the defense.

Walden, who’s entering his fourth season, had 25 tackles and three sacks for the Packers in nine games last season, including two starts. Zombo, a former undrafted free agent in his second year, had 38 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles in 13 games last season, eight of which were starts.

Both players should continue to improve and may have only scratched the surface of their potential. It’s likely both players will get snaps on defense this season regardless of who starts.

One of them will get the nod, though. Walden appears as if he might have pulled ahead in the race.

Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. TyKo Steamboat August 18, 2011

    This is a tough one…jus let em split time. I think Zombo would be better on 1st and 2nd down and Walden on third downs for pass-rush situations.

  2. TyKo Steamboat August 18, 2011

    In Coach McCarthy we trust!

  3. Tequila August 18, 2011

    Zombo: half zombie, half Rambo, all Packer.

  4. Vijay August 18, 2011

    This is a joke…TT and staff need to put the hammer down and get real starters for these positions, especially at LG…we got a little lucky and very hot at the end of last year, but you can’t rely on that happening year in and year out if you want to return to the SB! Ron Wolf would’ve been able to bring in a key free agent or two to make us dominant and win the division with ease. I’m still unsure about this whole draft and develop idea (cheap route) over getting quality starters (Woodson, Pickett) to help with another run. Lest we forget, we did not win the division and snuck in with the hottest QB as a 6th seed. We need to position ourselves for home field throughout…to do that, it takes signing the right/key FA to solidify weaknesses. Or maybe I’m wrong…

    1. jeremy August 18, 2011

      So which OLB’s of Woodsons or even Picketts caliber were available this offseason? Woodley and Hali were both franchised. Should TT have paid 3 million a season for Matt Roth like the Jags did? I doubt he would have guaranteed home field advantage. I’ll take Zombo or Walden over him.

    2. Mike R August 20, 2011

      Vijay, are you just copying and pasting you comments from story to story? Don’t start freaking out because the Eagles signed 20 free agents. History tells us that signing free agents isn’t necessarily the best way to win a Super Bowl. For every 1 free agent signing that pans out, there are probably 5 that don’t. Free agency has never been TT’s style, why would that change now?

  5. Ryan August 18, 2011

    Hmm… I think the last comment you made was probably your most accurate.

    Did we sneak into the playoffs last year? Sure. But really who cares. The team got hot at the right time. Zombo and Walden are solid players who will do the job nicely. Frankly, I much prefer TT’s way rather than signing high profile players left and right; it leads to unnecessary publicity, like the Eagles are getting.

    Finally, last time I checked, A-Rodg was drafted and developed. That turned out pretty well.

  6. Boston August 18, 2011

    From what I’m hearing I’d prefer Walden. He can develop into a steadier player with more experience (of which, as you noted, he has little in the Packers defense), but you can’t teach someone to be an explosive playmaker. He’s shown flashes, and I dream of two OLBs that can get after the QB.

  7. Notorious_BDT August 18, 2011

    When waldin came in against the bears (last reg season game) he was an animal….he didn’t really need to “know” the defense, capers just unleashed him and he baptized cutler!….now imagine waldin with his beastly ways actually knowing what he’s doing….to me zombo and jones filled a void we needed filled…..waldin made an impact, give it to waldin and keep coaching him up

  8. Tequila August 18, 2011

    Hey Vijay, try posting something original instead of copying and pasting on all these posts.

  9. story August 19, 2011

    i’m for Zombo but im a central grad and spent some nights at the bars in mount pleasant hanging around Frank. So i’m biased

  10. Chris K August 20, 2011

    Definetely ZOMBO, without a doubt. If you watch this Walden in coverage its really atrocious… Zombo never was THAT bad… I’m scared of a mid-field pass when Walden is in that zone. ZOMBO