I didn’t give it a second thought when I heard the Green Bay Packers were using inside linebacker Brandon Chillar at outside linebacker. After all, the team has been experimenting a lot with their linebackers.
I mean, they’ve tried 300-pound defensive end Cullen Jenkins at outside linebacker for Christ’s sake.
Chillar is a different story, though. As Jason Wilde tells us, Chillar seems to be taking to the move and the coaching staff believes he’s a legitimate candidate to start on the right side opposite Clay Matthews, who has been moved to the left side.
“We’re not giving the job to Brad; we’re not giving it to Brandon,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Availability is the No. 1 component of being on the field, and Brad’s had an issue with that the beginning of last year and the beginning of this year. So we’ve got a healthy competition. We like the rotation now that’s been created with Brandon over there.”
McCarthy is of course referring to Brad Jones, who was slated to start opposite Matthews, but has been battling injuries early in camp. Before Chillar, Brady Poppinga had been running with the No. 1 defense in Jones’ absence, but he now appears to be a situational rusher at best.
If Chillar starts on the outside, that most likely means Desmond Bishop will finally get the playing time he’s so desperately been craving. A.J. Hawk is a lot like a statue in coverage and Chillar replaced him in the Packers nickel and dime packages last season. If Chillar is the designated rusher opposite Matthews, Bishop would likely be next in line to replace Hawk in passing situations.
The Packers could also use Chillar to replace Hawk in their coverage packages and insert Jones at right outside linebacker to rush the passer.
It’s no certainty Chillar will take the job from Jones, of course. The preseason games will go a long way towards determining who the starter will be.
What is certain, is the Packers have quite a few options with their linebacking corp in all their defensive packages.