Summers was a seventh-round draft pick by the Packers this past April. His speed, aggressive tackling, and the cosmos aligning to give him an honest shot at starting against the Bears have made him an exciting prospect to watch.
The spot that’s open for him at inside linebacker was vacated by the unfortunate injuries to presumed starter Oren Burks and his competition for the starting spot, fellow rookie Curtis Bolton. Burks is suspected to return in a few weeks from his injury, and Bolton ditched his crutches on Sunday, but no timeline has been given for his return.
In the extended playing time that Summers has received, he’s made the most of it with some solid play on the field.
At the conclusion of the preseason, Summers led the NFL with 30 tackles, and showed his speed on a 74-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Chiefs on Thursday night. The pick was set up by a hit from Markus Jones, an outside linebacker who had an impressive game against Kansas City on Thursday night.
Summers was known as a tackling machine at TCU, too. His 121 tackles during his sophomore year was good enough for #2 among the Big 12 conference players, and his tendency to rack up the tackles appears to have carried well for the most part into NFL play.
The rookie linebacker, purely as an athlete, packs a lot of punch. His 27 reps on the bench press were good for third-best, and his 4.51 time in the 40-yard dash was fifth on the list of participants at the NFL combine among linebackers.
Perhaps it’s too soon to be this excited about the 226th pick in the NFL draft, but his arrow has been quickly turning upwards over the course of the past four weeks. If he can learn effectively from Blake Martinez, Summers has all the makings of a starting inside linebacker in the NFL.
His intelligence in calling plays and the motor he’s shown in pursuit of many a ball carrier has been impressive at the least. The combination of those two tendencies should warrant some playing time against Chicago on September 5.
As a rookie, it’s expected that Summers will have plenty to work on regarding his tackling, positioning, and recognizing the finer points of NFL offenses. At minimum, Summers will make a spot for himself on special teams.
Given his athleticism and hustle, there’s plenty of reason to believe that Summers’ natural flow to the ball on every play will have an impact on the defense if he is given a healthy amount of snaps this year. Whether that is on kickoffs or on each defensive series remains to be seen, but it will be worth keeping an eye on Summers and the situation at the inside linebacker spot as the season progresses.