Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Packers Middle LB Dilema
When the Green Bay Packers are forced with trimming their roster down to 53 players in early September, they could face some tough decisions at middle linebacker.
The Packers currently have four middle linebackers that might deserve to be playing on Sundays, but unfortunately only one can play at a time.
A lot can happen between now and September, but right now the Packers have Nick Barnett, Desmond Bishop, Abdul Hodge, and Danny Lansanah all pushing for playing time.
Barnett is coming off his best season in the NFL at middle linebacker, and there's no reason to think he won't be the starter come opening day. At the very least, there's plenty of competition to keep Barnett sharp once training camp opens. Plus the Packers look to have a viable backup if anything should happen to Barnett.
The top backup as of this moment is Bishop. With Barnett gone from this past Thursday's OTA practice, Bishop has been getting plenty of repetitions with the No. 1 defense too. And according to reports, Bishop has impressed.
"Linebacker Desmond Bishop, who was playing middle linebacker with the No. 1 defense in place of the absent Nick Barnett, got his hands on another pass but couldn't haul it in," reports Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
One of the toughest battles of training camp will be between Bishop and Hodge. It appears Hodge is the healthiest he's been in years, and will be pushing for playing time.
"The former third-round draft choice says his troublesome knees are in their best shape since his junior season at the University of Iowa," writes Mike Spofford of Packers.com.
Fans will remember the impact Hodge made at the beginning of his rookie year before injuries slowed him down. Being a first day draft choice, there's hope that he can regain the form of his college days and early in his rookie year.
Bishop spent a lot of time learning the outside linebacker positions last year in a reserve role. So perhaps the biggest compliment Hodge could possibly get is if the Packers decide to move Bishop to the outside full-time to Hodge could be the primary backup.
Flying in under the radar may be Lansanah who likely happens to be the crown jewel of dozen or so undrafted rookies the Packers signed after the draft. An All-Big East first team selection, it was surprising Lansanah wasn't drafted after a stellar career at Connecticut.
One key for Lansanah, as well as for Bishop and Hodge, will be special teams play. If any one of them is going to secure a roster spot, they're going to be competing with guys like Tracy White who make their living off becoming special teams demons.
If there happens to be an injury to any of the players at the mike linebacker position, the Packers are covered. But it's doubtful the Packers will keep all four of them. It will be a battle to watch in August.
Story Courtesy of Railbird Central