The Green Bay Packers are thin at inside linebacker. Jake Ryan is out for the season with a torn ACL and now rookie Oren Burks has a shoulder injury. That pretty much leaves Blake Martinez.
That is, until the Packers made the trade for Antonio Morrison, earlier this week.
Morrison started 15 games for the Colts in 2017. He led the team with 109 tackles. That experience is something Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst says he valued.
“Coming into camp, I think we were a little light in the experience department at inside linebacker. So it’s something we’ve kind of been looking at,” Gutekunst said. “Losing Jake kind of made that a little bit more important.
“I scouted Antonio coming out. He was kind of the heartbeat of that team coming out of Florida. A lot of passion, very physical. He loves to play ball. It’ll be good to get him out there and see how he fits in.”
So what did the Packers get other than experience? Apparently, they got a plodder. He’s been compared to Ryan.
“He’s not going to set the world on fire with his speed by any means,” Gutekunst said. “But he’s kind of an old-school throwback, very instinctual, very physical inside linebacker. We didn’t have any concerns there.”
Martinez is solid in coverage and it appears that’s what Burks was drafted for. It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Mike Pettine uses his inside linebackers when the regular season comes. In 2017, the Packers regularly used a safety in place of a second inside linebacker. That left Martinez on the field extensively and only a part-time role for Ryan.
The Packers seem ready to slot Burks into that secondary role when he’s healthy. So it’s unclear what role Morrison might have. He may just end up being a quality backup.