The Green Bay Packers were empty at inside linebacker before the season began, after cutting veteran players at the position during the off-season as Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk both got axed by General Manager Ted Thompson.
This was a major move as Sam Barrington had missed the his rookie season in 2013 when he was also placed on injured reserve. For a seventh round pick that was probably a good thing because it gave him more time to learn the playbook and be able to do well in future seasons. He did end up playing in 14 games during the 2014 season, during which he was able to manage a total of 52 tackles and one sack.
But after only managing one tackle during the season opener against the Chicago Bears, the bad news was given to Barrington. He had been seen leaving the field on crutches and in a walking boot, but the further away from Sunday it got without news, everyone knew they had to be taking a closer look at this and so it was not a surprise on Tuesday for the Packers to place him on injured reserve and ending his 2015 season early. But who exactly does that leave at inside linebacker for the Packers?
According to the depth chart, there are only two men left at middle linebacker. Those two men are Nate Palmer and Jake Ryan. So, this leaves a little bit to be desired, because Palmer had just eight solo tackles for all of the 2013 season and already got six filling in for Barrington against the Bears on Sunday. Ryan was able to get into his first ever NFL game on Sunday too, but he was only able to get one tackle. So, the Packers clearly need some veteran leadership on the inside, so what exactly are they going to do?
If you haven't figured it out yet, then you didn't pay a lot of attention last season. They clearly are going to have to line up Clay Matthews more often in the middle of the linebacking corps, which means that it will be more likely for Julius Peppers and Nick Perry to bring the pass rush from the outside linebacker spots. This may hurt the Packers pass rush, but Matthews got a big interception on Jay Cutler Sunday playing from the inside linebacker position, and that kind of talent is going to be valuable at either inside or outside. Matthews to the middle might be the best thing for the Green and Yellow. But they definitely are going to make sure that they fill any holes in their defense in their quest for Super Bowl 50.