Packers: Five players key to victory in Week 15 vs. Panthers

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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Green Bay Packers, Krys Barnes
Green Bay Packers, Krys Barnes (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

1. Krys Barnes

In his first game back from the COVID list, undrafted rookie linebacker Krys Barnes saw his role on the defense change slightly.

In the four games missed by Christian Kirksey, Barnes was the main man in the middle handling the calls from the sideline, being the true middle linebacker in Mike Pettine’s defense.

He made some mistakes, but overall he was productive and proved to be more than just an option for the team.

Since then, Barnes missed three games because of COVID-19 with last week being his first game back against the Detroit Lions.

Kirksey played more snaps than Barnes, but Barnes was still on the field for key moments and was even the lone linebacker on the field when Pettine went into his dime defense.

Detroit’s running backs weren’t much of a factor with the leading rusher only having 24 yards. Part of that may be due to the Lions not having spectacular backs, but the defense also kept the Philadelphia Eagles’ backs in check.

Maybe the defense is finally turning it around, maybe not.

The team still has time to figure it out and Barnes could be a factor in the weeks to come.

Carolina will be likely be without McCaffrey but Mike Davis can get the job done. Great teams will get things figured out heading into the playoffs. A third straight good showing against the rush can help turn the idea they can’t stop the run around.