Green Bay Packers linebacker Jamari Lattimore will be one of the keys for the Packers defense when they host the Cleveland Browns Sunday at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Green Bay Packers: 'Next Man Up'

Jamari Lattimore was the next man up at inside inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

It is a popular saying in the NFL and among those of us familiar with the Green Bay Packers, though it does bring a hint of dread with it: “Next Man Up.”

I know that is supposed to be comforting, knowing that there is depth to the Green Bay Packers. But, there is a reason that there are starters and there are backups … right?

Starters are the first string guys. They are the playmakers. They are the one who get it done. Backups are – well, they are backups. They don’t necessarily get it done, they are just trying to hold everything together until the starters are able to return. Right?

Not so fast.

The Packers are proving to me that depth is just that: DEPTH. One quality guy goes down and another quality guy is ready to step in. It’s exhilarating.

Clay Matthews‘ absence was a huge question mark hovering over the Packers defense. Mike Neal and Nick Perry showed up. Neal created pressure on one side, Perry created turnovers on the other. “Next Man Up” …

Brad Jones left with a hamstring injury and Robert Francois was quickly put on injured reserve after filling it. Inside linebacker was looking thin. In comes Jamari Lattimore, off the bench. He had a great game against the Baltimore Ravens and definitely caught my attention. Working the inside with A.J. Hawk, the two looked like a real pair. Lattimore played cleanup, and Hawk played the quarterback. He had 10 tackles and three sacks on the day, a personal best.

“Next Man Up” …

Our secondary has been taking a lot of heat lately. Micah Hyde, rookie overachiever in preseason, made some big plays. He came up with a key tackle in a goal line stand that forced a turnover on downs against the Ravens. He had his hand in the mix on key passing plays and stood in tall, looking like a pro in his first year.

“Next Man Up” …

Pro-Bowl tackle Bryan Bulaga was lost for the season before he could even generate steam as our new left tackle. But fear not, young rookie David Bakhtiari stepped in. He has had a very tough slate so far, facing All-Pros like Aldon and Justin Smith, Brian Orakpo, Michael Johnson. He has been highly effective in his new role. He is still learning and he can definitely improve, but I think all of Packers Nation can breathe easy because … the Green Bay Packers just tied up their left tackle of the future.

“Next Man Up” …

I love the depth on this team. I love that “Next Man Up” doesn’t mean a step down, it doesn’t mean a step back and it isn’t a death sentence.

It’s refreshing and it is one of the reasons that the Packers were named Champions in 2010 — and it’s why we are following that same path in 2013.

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Tags: David Bakhtiari Green Bay Packers Jamari Lattimore Nick Perry

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