The Green Bay Packers defense has been struggling to hold up its end of the deal over the past few weeks, but the unit could finally be getting the help it needs.
The Packers activated safety Ibraheim Campbell off the PUP list Wednesday, adding back a piece also capable of helping out an inside linebacker group that has been thin since before the regular season kicked off. The team also waived outside linebacker Tim Williams after claiming him from the Baltimore Ravens at the start of October.
Campbell was on his fifth team by the time he landed with the Packers last November — oddly enough, exactly a year from the date he was activated — but he racked up 18 total tackles and was performing well in both the safety and hybrid linebacker role before tearing his ACL less than a month later. The Packers resigned him during training camp and placed him on the reserve/PUP during roster cutdowns.
Returning a versatile player could be a shot in the arm for the Packers defense, which has seen its early-season hype evaporate in recent weeks. One matchup left before the bye week also makes now a terrific time to ease Campbell back into the action during Week 10’s home game against the Carolina Panthers at 3:25 p.m. CT Sunday.
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Packers Need a Bounce-Back Game
Aaron Rodgers called it a “slice of humble pie,” but the Packers’ second loss of the season — 26-11 at the Los Angeles Chargers — was far more concerning than just a small bump in the road for a team without legitimate status as a title contender.
While the Packers have been already matched their wins total from 2018 and are certain to finish as an improved product in 2019, the Chargers exposed deficiencies in all three phases of the game, particularly with a defense that has been vulnerable to big-yardage plays. The Chargers — who earlier in the week fired their offensive coordinator — gained more than 10 yards on more than a dozen plays as mistakes in the secondary piled up.
“I feel like we’ve just got to evaluate the film pretty critically, evaluate ourselves,” said Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander, who was beaten on a 46-yard bomb from Philip Rivers to Mike Williams trying to go for a pick and owned up to his mistake.
The Packers have now allowed three straight quarterbacks — including Kansas City backup Matt Moore — to finish with a passer rating of 100 or better. They are also giving up an average of 25 points and nearly seven yards per play to each of their last six opponents.
Pay Attention to How Campbell is Deployed
Transplanting Campbell into the secondary won’t solve all of the issues with the Packers’ pass defense, but there are a number of upsides with someone gifted at manning multiple positions. An injury to Raven Greene, who also played a hybrid role, deprived the team of that versatility after he went on the injured reserve list in September with an ankle injury. It has been a sorely missed component, too.
Setting the bar high for Campbell in his return performance would be a little unfair considering it has been nearly a year since he played a snap of football in a live game. That said, the right usage could see him assisting Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage Jr. as well as plugging in alongside centerpiece Blake Martinez. Even if he doesn’t produce figures that leap off the stat sheets, the manner in which the Packers use him against the Panthers could tip their hand in how they plan to solidify their defensive scheme for after the bye.