Morrison embracing fresh start with Packers
GREEN BAY, Wis. — A whirlwind 24 hours had Antonio Morrison go from on the outs with the Indianapolis Colts to a potentially important player with the Green Bay Packers.
The inside linebacker got right to work on Monday with Green Bay, which traded for Morrison to boost depth at a position hit by injuries. Morrison was at practice before facing more meetings and a long night of cramming the playbook.
If he’s a quick enough study, Morrison might even play in the preseason finale on Thursday night at Kansas City. At the very least, he’s happy to get a chance with a team that plays a 3-4 defense, which more suits his skillset.
“Downhill, aggressive, a lot of plugging, a lot of hitting,” Morrison said. “This fits my style of play.”
The Packers were already keeping an eye on experienced inside linebackers around the league after Jake Ryan, a top run defender, suffered a season-ending knee injury on July 31. He was set to start alongside Blake Martinez in Green Bay’s base defense.
Rookie Oren Burks, a third-round draft pick, then appeared to be next in line to replace Ryan when he had a shoulder injury during pregame warmups last week against Oakland. It does not appear as if it is a long-term setback, though it’s unclear whether Burks might be ready for the season opener against Chicago on Sept. 9.
Behind Burks was a group of undrafted free agents all in their first training camps.
“Coming into camp, I think we were a little light in the experience department at inside linebacker. So it’s something we’ve kind of been looking at,” said general manager Brian Gutekunst. He was familiar with Morrison from having scouted him for the 2016 draft.
“A lot of passion, very physical. He loves to play ball,” Gutekunst said. “It’ll be good to get him out there and see how he fits in.”
He seemed to fit in fine last year with the Colts, where he started 15 games and led the team with a career-high 108 tackles. But that was when Indianapolis was playing a 3-4 defense. The Colts have switched to a 4-3 defense this preseason under new coach Frank Reich.
Originally the Colts’ fourth-round draft pick in 2016, Morrison started sliding down the team’s depth chart in the new base scheme that requires only one starting inside linebacker.
“No, no frustration at all. I see what they were trying to build there,” Morrison said. “I had somewhat of a role, but here I may get a little more opportunity than there was being somewhere else. The 3-4, that’s fitting to what I do. I like it.”
NOTES: QB Aaron Rodgers missed practice because of an illness. … The Packers hope to get WR Trevor Davis (hamstring) into the Chiefs game for his first action of the preseason. Davis’ strength is as a returner, but his roster spot could be in jeopardy because of the depth at wideout. Green Bay took three receivers in the draft, while free agent receiver Juke Kumerow was impressive in camp before hurting his shoulder two weeks ago. … What was supposed to be the final preseason practice open to the public was closed after being moved indoors because of the weather.