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Blake Martinez gathered his fellow inside linebackers together after a tough day at Green Bay Packers practice.
It's difficult to see two key members of the defense go down with injuries on just the fourth day of training camp.
Inside linebacker Jake Ryan [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/aaron-rodgers-jersey]Womens Aaron Rodgers Jersey[/url] , one of the team's top run defenders, was carted off the field late in practice Monday with an apparent right leg injury. Kentrell Brice, a potential starter at safety, was carted off the field during a special teams drill, though the type of injury was unclear.
"Oh, man. That was bad, man. You hate to see that, especially as a player. That's your brother," safety Josh Jones said when asked about Brice.
Practice ended up being cut short early because of the threat of lightning. The injuries dampened the mood in the locker room.
Back inside Lambeau Field, Martinez gathered the rest of his position group together. Martinez (158) and Ryan (89) led the team in tackles last season.
After third-year pro Martinez and Ryan [url=http://www.newyorkgiantsteamonline.com/odell-beckham-jr-jersey]Womens Odell Beckham Jr Jersey[/url] , who is in his fourth year, rookies fill the inside linebacker depth chart. Martinez called a position meeting to get everyone refocused.
"It just comes down to 'What are we going to do now?'" Martinez said in recounting his message. "Or whatever your mindset is, what are you going to do to get better every day?"
Oren Burks, a third-round draft pick out of Vanderbilt, might play a bigger role if Ryan misses significant time. Burks played inside linebacker in college last season after taking on a hybrid linebacker/safety role as a junior. He played free safety as a sophomore.
The Packers are also making changes on defense after Mike Pettine replaced Dom Capers as coordinator. Martinez said that he'll be checking on the rookies constantly to make sure they are up to speed.
"I know my goals for this season, our team goals for this season and I'm not going to let one injury kind of ruin that for us," he said.
Brice appeared in line to take a starting job at safety following the offseason departure of veteran Morgan Burnett, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent. Brice played six games with three starts last year before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury on Nov. 3. He played in all 16 games with one start as a rookie.
Coach Mike McCarthy likes Brice for his positional versatility, a trait that has become more important on defenses to help keep up with expanding passing attacks. The Packers are still deep at safety, where promising second-year player Jones might get more snaps if Brice misses a lot of time.
The defense must move on [url=http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/khalil-mack-jersey]Authentic Khalil Mack Jersey[/url] , as hard as that might be to do after a trying day.
"It's kind of tough. You just do it because it's part of your job. But in the back of your head, it's always there though," said cornerback Demetri Goodson, who came back from a serious knee injury earlier in his career.
Notes: Rookie CB Jaire Alexander picked off QB Aaron Rodgers over the middle during play action drills. The interception came two plays after Rodgers hit tight end Jimmy Graham in stride up the seam on a pretty pass for a big gain. ... S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix intercepted Rodgers during a two-minute drill on a short pass over the middle that was tipped by Martinez. ... RB Aaron Jones hopes to return to practice no later than Thursday. He said he tweaked his hamstring at practice on Saturday.
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Bobby Wagner reacted as though he was hoping the question would come.
With all the changes on the Seattle Seahawks defense – the leaders, the voices, the veterans no longer around – will there be a new focus on a group of linebackers that at times has seemed underappreciated?
”It has always been about the guy in the middle,” Wagner said emphatically. ”So for me, it’s not no different because that’s how I look at it, but from the outside maybe it is different because those guys are gone and you guys are looking for someone who is going to be that leader. Y’all ain’t got to look. You’re looking at the guy right here. I will be that guy and we’re going to be fine.”
And with that [url=http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/jameis-winston-jersey]Womens Jameis Winston Jersey[/url] , any question about who the leading voice is on Seattle’s defense was quickly answered.
For most of the past half-decade, Seattle’s highly regarded defense was defined by the secondary with the catchy nickname and the flashy personalities. From there, attention often shifted to the defensive line and the type of chaos Michael Bennett and others created on – and sometimes off – the field.
Then there was Wagner and fellow linebacker K.J. Wright. They have been regarded as two of the best in the league at their positions and sometimes have received that level of recognition. But they were often relegated to a secondary role on their own team in terms of recognition even with Wagner being voted first-team All-Pro three times and Wright being a Pro Bowl selection.
”The attention has gone elsewhere, I guess,” Wright said. ”Nothing will change. We’ll still be the bad-ass linebackers on this team. We’ll still lead the way. Stuff will still be run in order. We’ll still make plays and it’ll be fun out there.”
Seattle’s offseason defensive overhaul saw Bennett, Richard Sherman and Sheldon Richardson find new homes; Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor step away from the game due to neck injuries, and Earl Thomas hold out in search of a new contract. There are changes everywhere across Seattle’s defensive alignment, with the exception of the linebackers.
Wagner has been calling Seattle’s defense from the moment he arrived in the NFL and became a starter as a rookie. His partner the entire time has been Wright. With the departures, those voices they’ve used together for the past six seasons will be even louder.
”Yeah, they had the name [url=http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/jordan-howard-jersey]Womens Jordan Howard Jersey[/url] , they got a lot of the attention and now the attention may shift to the linebackers,” Wagner said. ”But we pride ourselves on being the guys that lead this team and that has been my mindset since I stepped in. I had coach Norton teach me the way.”
Ken Norton Jr. has returned to Seattle to be the defensive coordinator. He was a mentor for Wagner and Wright as the linebackers coach when both arrived in the NFL. Now he’s returned with an even bigger imprint on what Seattle does defensively.
”He’s the linebackers guy and he put that responsibility more on us. He calls on me in the meeting room to answer most of the questions, calls on Bobby to answer the questions because he knows that we’re all on the same page,” Wright said. ”He knows that we’re the guys that can share our leadership abilities, share our knowledge of the game. He’s putting that on us.”
There may also be some schematic tweaks that give Wagner and Wright more freedom defensively. Wright said he believes the adjustments will make Seattle more fundamentally sound defensively and the linebackers could be the benefactors.
”I think this defense is hungry,” Wright said. ”We have a lot to prove. Myself, the secondary with all the guys leaving, the (defensive) line with the guys leaving. It’s going to be fun because you’ve got guys who want to come and show who they are.”
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