Packers Annual Checkup: Jamari Lattimore
FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. Check every weekday through mid-April for his latest report.
Jamari Lattimore, inside linebacker
Season stats: 16 games (272 snaps), 36 tackles, 2.0 sacks, two quarterback hurries, two tackles for loss, five missed tackles, one forced fumble, zero interceptions, one pass defensed, 16 stops (solo tackles that resulted in offensive failure); targeted 20 times in coverage, allowing 15 receptions for 105 yards, one touchdown
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: minus-0.1 (No. 9 out of 26 on Packers defense; ranked No. 1 among Green Bay’s inside linebackers)
Best game: Week 8 win at Minnesota (played 30 of 49 defensive snaps; three tackles, one sack, zero missed tackles, three stops; 3.3 PFF rating)
Worst game: Week 17 win at Chicago (played 40 of 51 defensive snaps; four tackles, one missed tackle, zero sacks, two stops; targeted twice in coverage, allowing two catches for 11 yards, one touchdown; minus-3.1 PFF rating)
Expectations at the start of the season: Low
Expectations were … Exceeded
Looking live: Undrafted in 2011, Jamari Lattimore rarely stepped on the field in Green Bay’s defense during his first two seasons. Beginning at outside linebacker as a rookie before moving inside going into his second year, Lattimore played a combined 38 defensive snaps in 2011 and 2012. He was mainly a special teams contributor and was buried quite low on the linebacker depth charts. But, heading into his third NFL season, Lattimore took multiple steps towards playing time. It started with the Packers releasing inside linebackers Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith due to injury concerns. By the end of training camp, second-year inside linebacker (and 2012 fifth-round pick) Terrell Manning was cut. The thinning of the inside linebacker depth chart certainly showed the team’s belief in Lattimore that he could get the job done if called upon, though he was still stuck behind starters Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk, as well as top reserve Robert Francois. Training camp didn’t start off well for Lattimore, as he reported with an illness that kept him off the field for the first two days. Coach Mike McCarthy later said that Lattimore had "lost some weight" while battling the illness. When Lattimore returned, he suffered from cramping and was later out for an additional two days with the illness. Finally fully recovered midway through training camp, Lattimore became one of eight core special teams players, participating on multiple units (including kickoff coverage and kickoff return).
Upon further review: Lattimore was a special teams-only player through the first quarter of the regular season. But, when Jones was injured and his top replacement Francois tore his Achilles later that same game, Lattimore had his shot. A week later, in Lattimore’s first career start, he played very well. He showed athleticism that Jones and Hawk just don’t have. Lattimore did a little of everything well in that Week 6 game at Baltimore. He made three stops against the run and put pressure on the quarterback once despite only getting four opportunities to rush. Quarterback pressure was a trend all year for Lattimore, whose two sacks and two additional QB hurries came despite him only pass-rushing 16 times. That’s an incredibly small sample size, but it’s still a 25-percent success rate. Lattimore was so good in his three early season starts that it seemed like the injuries to Jones and Francois were a benefit to the Packers, not just in current production but also in finding out how their third-stringer could perform. However, when Jones was healthy again, he took his starting spot back while Lattimore played no more than nine snaps in any game over the next month. At the end of the regular season, when Jones was injured again, Lattimore wasn’t able to duplicate what he did earlier in the year. Lattimore struggled a bit against both the Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 16) and Chicago Bears (Week 17), showing that he might have just been on a hot streak previously.
Overall 2013 grade: B-minus
Status for 2014: Eighty percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster to begin the 2014 season. Lattimore began the offseason as a restricted free agent, but he has reportedly been offered a tender by the Packers. There are other reasons to expect him to stick with Green Bay. He’s probably not the next Bishop (who was on the bench for three seasons before becoming a starter), but Lattimore is a good backup inside linebacker who also contributes at a high level on special teams. For the money (low-tender offer around $1.4 million) and being only 25 years old, he’s the perfect candidate to remain a member of the Packers for a few more seasons.
Next: Punter Tim Masthay
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