Packers bolster ILB depth by dealing for Colts’ Morrison
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers‘ acquisition of linebacker Antonio Morrison from the Indianapolis Colts had as much to do with the season-ending knee injury suffered by Jake Ryan a month ago as Oren Burks‘ recent shoulder injury.
Green Bay needed another player with NFL experience at inside linebacker.
Since Ryan went down July 31, third-year player Blake Martinez has been surrounded by nothing but inexperience — third-round rookie Burks and undrafted free agents Ahmad Thomas, Greer Martini, Naashon Hughes, Marcus Porter and James Crawford. They were all in their first NFL training camp.
“Antonio is obviously an experienced linebacker, and if you look at the youth of the group, something that we felt we needed to add,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
Morrison changes the equation. A fourth-round pick in 2016, the 6-foot-1, 241-pounder played in 31 games in two seasons with the Colts. Of his 19 career starts, 15 came last season, when he finished with a team-high 109 tackles.
Burks, who replaced Ryan in the starting lineup and had formed the No. 1 tandem with Martinez, dislocated a shoulder before Friday’s game at the Oakland Raiders. McCarthy said the test results were better than anticipated and the injury “should not be a long-term deal.”
“That’s what it’s looking like,” Burks said. “But at the same time, just trying to take it one day at a time and do the rehab.”
Martini, who was more of a special-teams standout at Notre Dame, and Thomas, who played safety at Oklahoma, rotated in with Martinez throughout the first half at Oakland. They’ll get the bulk of the playing time in Thursday night’s preseason finale at Kansas City.
“Super proud of them,” Burks said. “It’s a new opportunity. Like when I had to step up, it’s time for them to step up.”
General manager Brian Gutekunst dealt from a position of strength to bolster a position of weakness by dealing cornerback Lenzy Pipkins. Pipkins flashed potential in 12 games last season, which included extensive action in both games against Minnesota.
Notes: QB Brett Hundley’s performance against the Raiders was “probably the highlight of the night,” McCarthy said. Hundley led the Packers to an opening field goal but was challenged by the performance of the offensive line, which was made up entirely of backups. … One of those backups, Kyle Murphy, struggled while starting at right tackle against Oakland. He was seen in the locker room Sunday wearing a walking boot on his right foot. He missed most of last season with an injured left foot. … Based on performance and Murphy’s injury, Jason Spriggs is “definitely that guy” as the top backup tackle, McCarthy said. … RB Ty Montgomery, who exited following the first drive with an injured foot, said “I’m not injured. Nothing happened.”