The Green Bay Packers turned to Joe Thomas after Sam Barrington was lost for the season, in 2015. The Packers retrieved Thomas from the Cowboys practice squad after releasing him during the final roster cutdown. Initially, Thomas was used as the third down coverage linebacker.
Until he wasn’t. Clay Matthews became the primary coverage linebacker as the season went on.
While Thomas is decent in coverage, he has plenty of shortcomings. One of them is size. Thomas was just too small to play the run with any effectiveness. We saw him getting pushed around a lot when he played. Even on passing plays.
After seeing his role diminish as the 2015 season wore on and the entrance of Blake Martinez, we wrote Thomas off. He became an afterthought.
Martinez is supposed to be the coverage linebacker.
Well, it looks like Thomas tried to do something about his situation during the offseason. He put on weight.
After playing last season at 225, he’s now up to 235. For comparison’s sake, Jake Ryan and Sam Barrington are listed at 240. Martinez is listed at 237.
So at least Thomas is in the range of a normal inside linebacker now.
Of course, we have no idea how that will translate to the field yet. Maybe the extra weight will make Thomas slower. Or maybe he’ll maintain his speed and now he won’t get pushed around as much.
You have to think the Packers already know they’re keeping three inside linebackers — Martinez, Ryan and Barrington (if he ever returns from injury). There’s certainly room for a fourth.
Thomas or the much-maligned Carl Bradford.
We need at least one of these ILB’s, preferably two, to emerge as three down players. If not, more teams will be running a no huddle offence against us in critical situations.