When the Green Bay Packers lost Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews in Week 5 to a thumb injury, question marks were raised as to who would step up on the defensive side of the ball and make plays. A.J. Hawk certainly stepped up against the Baltimore Ravens and answered that question.
Hawk, who has played great this entire season, came out with a vengeance and led the Packers defense. He finished with eight tackles, three sacks and looked very explosive throughout the entire game.
It was exactly what the Packers ordered, and if anyone questioned who could be a leader on the defense, Hawk answered the doubters.
Hawk’s play certainly sparked the rest of the defense, and it seemed that everyone’s game rose as a result. Defensive lineman Mike Daniels said after the game: “A.J. made us right. That’s the best way to put it. He showed why he is A.J. Hawk. It’s an honor to play with him.”
It was a fantastic game for Hawk and the Packers will need more of it from the veteran linebacker as some of the injuries are building for the team on both sides of the ball. If Hawk can continue to play at this level throughout the year, the defense will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
Expect Hawk to have his ears pinned back next week against the Cleveland Browns and try to improve on his sack total. The Browns have allowed the second most sacks in the NFL with a total of 24. With a not so mobile Brandon Weeden at quarterback, Hawk might just be able to one-up his performance from this past week.