When the Green Bay Packers lost Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews to a thumb injury, a lot of expectations were put on Nick Perry. Perry was expected to be the go-to pass rusher and run stopper that Matthews is. Perry stepped up big against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6 but sat out this past week against the Cleveland Browns with a foot injury. His injury left a big gap in the linebacking corps and an uncertainty in Packer land.
However, just as many players have done this year, when one guy goes down for the Packers, someone else steps up. On defense, the player who has stepped up the most is third-year man Jamari Lattimore.
Lattimore played in 14 games for the Packers last season and had seven tackles as he got his feet wet with the organization. This season, he saw limited action early on but now has gotten a starting spot and is making the most of every opportunity he has been given.
This past week, Lattimore posted 12 total tackles, nine of them being solo tackles. Along with the tackles, he recorded a sack and pass deflection in the game.
Lattimore showed a surprising quickness and proved he can get after the quarterback, tackle in the open field and defend against the pass. It proved that he is a triple threat on defense and will certainly be a staple in Dom Capers‘ defense even when Matthews and Perry return. With players such as AJ Hawk and Datone Jones stepping up on the defensive line and in the linebacking corps, the defense has come together. If Lattimore can continue to improve and play at this level, he will add a depth the Packers have looked for at linebacker.
The Packers defense has become one of the more improved defenses in the league this season, and it is because guys like Lattimore have stepped up when their name has been called. With young talent across the board and stars like Matthews and Perry on their way back, expect even bigger and better things from the Packers defense as the season progresses.