This picks up where the post from earlier this week discussing the Green Bay Packers inside linebackers left off. The thing they have in common is LB Brandon Chillar. Where is this guy going to play in 2010?
Here's the official Packers.com depth chart. Currently 6 players are listed at outside LB.
LB Clay Matthews. He got off to a slow start in 2009 due to a hamstring injury, and went onto lead the team with 10 sacks. He's off to a slow start again in 2010 because of another hamstring injury. So another double digit sack season is in order? My only question is whether to wear The Mighty Clay or The Claymaker.
Chillar. He's currently listed as the starter on the weak side opposite of Matthews. He signed a four-year contract extension back in December, so I guess they fell obligated to start him somewhere. He seems to do everything well, but he's not exceptional in any way. I watched him consistently put no pass pressure on the quarterback in the first preseason game, so he won't pick up the slack left behind by LB Aaron Kampman. I like him well enough on the inside in place of LB A.J. Hawk, but not at outside LB.
LB Brady Poppinga. Another linebacker who GM Ted Thompson inexplicably gave a long-term extension. He's a coach's dream because he always seems to know his role and he's working as hard as anyone on the defense. But he just doesn't do anything. In 43 career starts, he has recorded 4 sacks, 2 INTs and 2 forced fumbles. Those are solid numbers for a single season, but not over 43 starts. I guess that makes him a solid backup, but he'll provide little pass rush if he has to play in place of Matthews on the strong side.
LB Brad Jones. He looked great against the Browns (albeit their reserves) in the first preseason game. But he looked good last preseason too, and then recorded 4 sacks him in his first 7 career starts during the regular season. Again, he's shown much greater potential as a pass rusher than Chillar (who only has 7.5 career sacks in 52 career starts).
LB Frank Zombo. He's currently listed as a weak side backup, but when he shoved the Browns lineman into QB Colt McCoy (which led to McCoy's injury and an INT) he was playing on the strong side. He's almost exactly the same size and weight as Matthews (6'3", 254 lbs.) so it seems more natural that he'd back him up. I have to see more of him this preseason, but he's off to a good start.
LB Cyril Obiozor. He seems to be a favorite of outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene, but he looked like a project last season. In 2009, he played little after he was activated from the practice squad. He's off to a slow start too because he missed the first preseason game with a calf injury, and he's just returned to practice this week.
While both Zombo and Obiozor certainly have a chance to win a roster spot, I'm excluding them from the poll because it's nearly impossible to believe either of them could start in week 1.
Who should start at outside linebacker in 2010?
Matthews and Chillar (148 votes)
Matthews and Jones (471 votes)
Matthews and Poppinga (48 votes)
667 total votes