Linebacker, specifically the middle linebackers, for the Green Bay Packers, has seemed to always be a hot topic of conversation. And with Blake Martinez having departed for the New York Giants over the offseason, the team is looking for some more production at that position from unfamiliar names.
Former Cleveland Browns LB Christian Kirksey was brought in on a two-year deal this offseason, and he ultimately is slotted in as the top MLB moving forward. But outside of him, the defense is needing to find other production alongside him.
Golden Gopher rookie Kamal Martin, who was stringing together a series of really solid training camp appearances, was in line to start next to Kirksey in the lineup. But with his impending knee surgery related to a Meniscus injury, Martin’s debut will need to be pushed back, a huge blow to what looked to be a solid 1-2 punch at LB for the team.
Curtis Bolton, who just like Martin was making huge strides in camp, was the expected LB star of 2019, but a torn ACL shortened his season, and he still is on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), and he has not practiced at all this year. He would have been the next guy up (presumably), so another depth piece is, at least at this moment, not available.
Instead, Oren Burks looks like the most likely option to be the starter alongside Kirksey, and the third-year pro out of Vanderbilt is for sure needing to break out, as he has failed to do so far. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is going to have to harness more out of Burks, as he is next up for this team.
Hybrid safety Raven Greene is going to line up in an LB role as well, helping take some of the snaps at the position as well, so Burks won’t be called upon to fill that role fully, but it will also be a new role for Green as well, which is going to be a difficult aspect to overcome, especially early in the season.
The LB unit is going to be one of the more interesting units to watch this year, and the Packers are going to need as much production out of them as he possibly can.
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23
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