We’ve talked about this. If we had to bet, we’d bet on Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez being the Green Bay Packers’ starting inside linebackers in 2016. Maybe not at the start of the year, but certainly by the end of the year. That would leave Sam Barrington as the odd man out.
Barrington knows what’s going on.
He hears the talk. He knows he’s going to face a battle to reclaim the starting spot he earned in 2014 then lost when a foot injury shelved him for all but one game in 2015.
He doesn’t care.
“I don’t care who we bring in — I’m just glad we have guys who want to win the game. All I want to do is win and have fun playing the game of football. There’s several ways you can have fun, but I guarantee you No. 1 is to win.”
And No. 2 is probably to start.
We’re not discounting Barrington as a potential starter or even as one cog in a three-man rotation.
The thing is, the Packers need a three-down inside linebacker, i.e. someone who can cover backs and tight ends effectively. The guy that looks to be at the top of that list is Martinez. We also highly doubt Ryan, a 2015 fourth-round pick, is going anywhere.
Ryan should improve noticeably in his second season.
The other question with Barrington are the injuries. In three seasons, he has managed to play in just 22 games.
We’ve seen that scenario play out before too. Someone who the Packers deem to be injury-prone ends up looking for a job elsewhere.
The most notable case of that happening was with inside linebacker Desmond Bishop. Although very productive when healthy, the Packers decided he wasn’t worth the injury risk and released him following the 2012 season, which he missed because of a hamstring injury.
That’s something to keep in the back of your mind here.