Is the LOLB position still a concern for the Packers?

While it hasn’t even been a month since the Patriots released him, it’s becoming clearer by the day that Packers GM Ted Thompson isn’t interested in signing free agent Adalius Thomas. With Green Bay’s apparent need at outside linebacker, one would think that Thompson would have reached out to Thomas (who has lost a step over the years, but is still an effective pass rusher) by now.

But maybe Thompson is right when he says that the left outside linebacker position isn’t a dire need like many people believe it is. Maybe Brad Jones is the answer to replace Aaron Kampman (who signed with the Jaguars earlier this offseason) on a full-time basis.

When Kampman (who wasn’t an ideal fit at OLB in a 3-4 anyway) went down with an injury after Week 11 last year, it was Jones (a 2009 seventh round pick from Colorado) and not former starter Brady Poppinga who was placed into the starting lineup. With a playoff berth on the line, the Packers went with an unproven seventh round pick in Jones over a player with starting experience in Poppinga.

The move was either a testament to Jones’ abilities or a total slap in the face of Poppinga. Considering Thomas hasn’t received a call from Thompson, the former is probably more appropriate. The Packers obviously feel as though Jones is ready to become a full-time starter after he registered 27 tackles and four sacks in limited action last season. And considering Jones played in a 3-4 at Colorado, it’s apparent that his learning curve wasn’t that big when he went from college to the pros. He earned the starting position last season and barring a complete meltdown in training camp, it’s clear that he’ll have the same role in 2010.

If Jones blossoms into a reliable starter, then Thompson should be hailed for not only finding a late round gem, but also resisting the urge to sign Thomas. If Jones fails, then the Packers could be left with a gaping hole at the LOLB position and Thompson will be scrutinized for not addressing the need when he had a chance in the offseason.


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