Inside linebacker (3)
Clay Matthews’ move back to outside linebacker piles the pressure onto the inside group. A healthy Sam Barrington will help improve what was the Packers’ weakest spot on defense entering the offseason.
Barrington is a physical tackler, at his best stuffing the run. Returning from a season-ending foot injury, the Packers need him to stay healthy. Barrington will pair up with second-year Jake Ryan as the starters in the base defense.
Blake Martinez excels in coverage, but the rookie requires more work before landing a starting gig. The majority of the fourth-rounder’s work will come in nickel and dime packages.
Joe Thomas hopes to claim a fourth spot on the depth chart ahead of Carl Bradford, Beniquez Brown and Derrick Matthews. Thomas put together a solid performance in the Packers’ preseason opener but may miss out.
All eyes will be on this position group throughout the season. Long the Achilles heel on defense, has general manager Ted Thompson stocked up on enough talent to turn inside linebacker into a strength? Time will tell.
Next: Outside linebacker