Jamari Lattimore? From unknown to standout

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Green Bay Packers linebacker Jamari Lattimore has proven he can be a sterter in the National Football League. His play over the past three weeks while stepping in for injured linebackers has been outstanding. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports photograph

 

Jamari who? We all asked.

Buried deep on the Green Bay Packers depth charts behind guys like Brad Jones, Robert Francois, and A.J. Hawk, Jamari Lattimore has done more than enough the past three weeks to make a name for himself.

While we’re not going to forget the names of the injured, Lattimore is doing great things on the field to find himself on the list of household names in Packers Nation.

The unassuming, quiet and productive linebacker came off special teams the past two weeks, being thrust into the starting lineup as players fell from the Packers roster as fast as the leaves falling from northern Wisconsin trees.

Everyone worried. The end was near. What will the defense do without the likes of Jones, Francois, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, and of course, Clay Matthews?

Packers linebacker Jamari Lattimore has proven to be a steady and punishing tackler for the Green Bay Packers. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

“Stay calm and carry on,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said quietly and confidently. That’s because he knows something we don’t. Clearly, he understands the depth and wealth of talent his team has and when it came time to dig to the third level of linebackers to fill holes left by the injured, McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers didn’t flinch.

They threw Lattimore on the field, knowing full well he would hold his own. Well, the third-year undrafted free agent who signed on with the Packers in 2011 out of Middle Tennessee State has done much more than just take up space on the field. The guy has played like a man possessed.

Over the past two games (Baltimore and Cleveland), he’s had 12 solo tackles (nine against Cleveland alone) and four assists. In addition, he has a sack and has deflected a pass as he holds down one of the more important positions on the field.

What’s been most impressive to me is his ability to tackle. For the past two or three years we have lamented the fact that the Packers have been a horrible tackling team and offenses have taken advantage of that fact way too many times – just ask Adrian Peterson.

With Lattimore, we get a guy who wraps up and isn’t afraid to drive through a ball carrier.

And I’ll tell you what I like the most: Lattimore seems to be a humble, unassuming, non-showboating type of player. He makes the tackle, gets up, lowers his head as if bowing to the greater tackling gods and moves back into position for the next play. He doesn’t get up, throw himself around and make a spectacle. There are few players of his ilk around in the NFL these days, so it’s refreshing.

Lattimore is part of a group of young linebackers on this team who have shown their skill set. The way Lattimore has played the past couple of weeks, he’s shown that he’s starter material. Now when the Packers get their starters back at the position, Lattimore will most likely find his spot on the bench again.

But the team and its fans can surely know that if he’s called up again, we won’t be saying “Jamari who?”

Turn to the next page to see statistics and much more about Jamari Lattimore … courtesy of www.packers.com

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