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Cheese Curds, 5/19: Packers’ linebacker units will look very different in 2017

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The Packers are retooling the outside linebackers by necessity and the inside linebackers by design.

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NFL: Green Bay Packers Rookie Orientation Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Both sets of linebacker positions are in a state of flux in Green Bay this offseason. The Packers have taken steps to revamp the roster at both spots this spring as the team looks to improve the defense from a poor finish to last season.

On the edge, the Packers lost a few key contributors in free agency and although they re-signed their top pass-rusher from last season, they did not bring in any additional veterans to supplement those lost snaps. Instead, they will rely on a handful of rookies and second-year players to fill out the back end of the roster behind a trio of veterans.

The inside linebacker spot is a different story. Instead of retooling it by necessity, the Packers are beginning to embrace the NFL’s trend of using smaller, faster players who are better able to cover. The draft was a sign of this, as well as the signing of hyper-athletic rookie free agent Cody Heiman, who has all the physical tools of a modern NFL linebacker.

In today’s cheese curds, we prominently discuss both of those changes and the adjustments to the defense overall, even as head coach Mike McCarthy explains why he is sticking with his long-tenured defensive coordinator.

Why didn't Mike McCarthy fire Dom Capers? The answer: Mason Crosby - ESPN
That's a bit of a simplistic answer, but the reality of it is that McCarthy sticks with his guys through thick and thin and does not make a change simply for the sake of the change. Here's the key quote: "I think all of us in life have always gone through experiences in our past that you may have quit on something just to get that fresh, new start, and it feels good but in hindsight it was not the best thing for you."

Mike McCarthy to keep a ‘close eye’ on Packers OLB competition | Packers Wire
Meanwhile, McCarthy recognizes that there are a ton of snaps on the edge that need to be replaced, due to departures in free agency. The team will look to a group of young players to fill in those gaps.

Young options will be key for Packers defense | PFF
Believe it or not, but Kyler Fackrell's pass-rush productivity number was actually the same as Nick Perry's. Granted, that took place in far fewer snaps. Meanwhile, Vince Biegel ranked 8th out of 147 qualifying 3-4 linebackers in that same value during last year's college football season.

Big change: Packers getting smaller inside | Packersnews.com
The trends on NFL defenses is to shift to smaller, faster, and more agile inside linebackers. Just think about the safeties who have moved to a full-time linebacker role like Deone Bucannon or Mark Barron, or the small, quick linebackers like Levonte David. The Packers’ selection of Josh Jones appears to be a sign that they are moving in that direction.

Which NFL player would you name a food after? - SBNation.com
I might not drink the Aaron Rodgers-inspired "Kale Mary" smoothie, but it's a pretty clever name.

Offensive line was 'crown jewel' of Lombardi Packers | Packers.com
Team historian Cliff Christl speaks to quarterback John Roach, who backed up Bart Starr for a few years in the 1960s. Roach says that three members of the team's offensive line were flat-out the best players at their positions in the entire NFL.

Abdullah 'better player' than any RB Lions could sign - NFL.com
Detroit was thought to be interested in adding a running back or two this offseason, and they are in a way. They're getting Ameer Abdullah back from IR, and they're excited about his projection as a feature back this year.