While the Packers successfully addressed their biggest draft day priority in landing safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix, they did not address their other big need at inside linebacker. As a result, the team is going into the 2014 season with the current, starting duo of A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones. But if either of these two get injured or don’t perform as needed, who will step up to the plate?
The next player on the depth chart is Jamari Lattimore, a fourth year player who made the most of the snaps he saw last season and caught the eye of the coaching staff.
In 2013, Lattimore started four games for the injured Jones and was a stud on special teams. He saw a career-high 272 defensive snaps, recorded 38 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. While those are impressive numbers for an originally undrafted free agent, he isn’t content with his play thus far.
“I haven’t accomplished, to me, really nothing,” Lattimore said during organized team activity practices this spring. “[My goals are] to make a lot of plays to help the team. There are a lot of different levels [of success]. For me, I have to accomplish a lot more before I take that. I’ve got a lot to do.”
Despite not being satisfied with last year’s play, Lattimore’s efforts caught the eye of defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
“I like his athletic abilities,” Capers said. “He’s a guy, you saw him make plays in space. He has enough athletic ability against some of the skill you play against. When Brad (Jones) went down, he had some very good games for us where he impacted the game with his athletic ability. You can never have enough good athletes out there and Jamari just gives us another athletic option.”
Linebackers coach Winston Moss also had good things to say about Lattimore. “He wants to be a playmaker. He wants to be an impact player. So far, it’s been primarily on special teams, but there could be an opportunity there. If it does show up, you’ve got to be ready to take it and seize the moment.”
Moss went on to say, “This year, we look for him to pick up where he left off and, whatever we ask him to do and how we ask him to do it, he should be ready to go. His attitude is ‘Hey, I’ve gone in the game, I’ve done some good things. If I’m given an opportunity, I should continue to be very productive.’”
After proving his abilities in limited time last year, and head coach Mike McCarthy stating that he wants to use more diverse personnel groupings in 2014, this could very well be the year that Lattimore gets prime opportunities to show what he’s capable of.
Lattimore blocks a punt.