In a test of the Green Bay Packers’ depth at linebacker, rookie outside linebacker Brad Jones will not only see the first significant action of his career, but will notch his first start as a pro against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Regular starter Aaron Kampman will be held out of the game due to the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered against the Buccaneers, last week. His primary backup, Brady Poppinga, suffered a mysterious quad injury this week and won’t be able to go either.
While Brad Jones wasn’t exactly heralded as the next James Harrison when he was drafted by the Packers in the seventh round of this year’s draft, he is a true 3-4 linebacker – something Kampman and Poppinga are not.
Jones is getting the nod over the injury-plagued Jeremy Thompson, primarily because of what he’s shown as a pass rusher.
“I think he’s got some naturalness rushing the passer,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “Some of the good pass rushers have flexibility in their body where they can kind of contort their body. They can get skinny, get their hips around, get their shoulders by a guy, and those are the things that I noticed about Chad Brown when he first came to the Steelers. I’ve seen some of those same types of things with Brad in terms of his rush ability.”
Going against the dynamic Dallas offense with an undersized and inexperienced linebacker in the starting lineup could be a disaster for the Packers. Then again, it could be just what the doctor ordered.
Assuming Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and Capers will be able to stick around beyond this season, Brad Jones may offer a glimpse of what the 3-4 system will look like with system players in place – or at least after Kampman bails via free agency or gets traded in the spring.