Sam Barrington was a surprise starter for the Green Bay Packers at inside linebacker last week.
Barrington started instead of Jamari Lattimore, who had manned the slot next to A.J. Hawk since Brad Jones proved himself completely incapable early in the season. Lattimore suffered a stinger against Miami, but that apparently played no role in the decision to start Barrington.
The Carolina game was not only Barrington’s first career start, it was his only extensive playing time on defense in his two-year pro career. It probably won’t be his last either.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers says Barrington has earned a spot in the rotation.
“We need for these young guys to get more comfortable and more confident. So we thought it was a good start for him last week. You’ll continue to see us work him in there to try to get him a certain number of plays during the games,” Capers said.
What that means going forward isn’t quite clear.
Barrington and Lattimore played almost an equal number of snaps last week. Barrington played 29 and Lattimore played 26. The former’s snaps came almost exclusively in the base 3-4 and the latter in the nickel, which would suggest the Packers are more comfortable with Lattimore in pass defense.
It may also suggest the Packers are more comfortable with Barrington overall.
Lattimore is a guy who makes plays, but he’s also a guy that blows an assignment from time to time.
Regardless of which guy starts or plays the most snaps — the Packers are being coy about that, it does seem clear they are done with Jones. And thank god for that!
Jones, who has seemingly missed more tackles than he’s made this season, didn’t get any defensive snaps against Carolina.
For what it’s worth, Lattimore finished last week with three tackles and Barrington had two.
Lattimore has 37 tackles and a pick on the season. Barrington has six tackles.