Packers Lose OLB to Major Injury as Kamal Martin Also Sidelined

Ramsey/Martin Injuries

Getty Kyle Shurmur #9 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws a pass while being pressured by Randy Ramsey #56 of the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 29, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Green Bay Packers’ linebacker corps has seen better days.

After opening training camp last week with star pass rusher Za’Darius Smith on the reserve/non-football injury list with a back injury, the Packers have another two linebackers joining him on the sideline after both outside linebacker Randy Ramsey and inside linebacker Kamal Martin sustained injuries in this week’s practices.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur confirmed Tuesday that Ramsey — who established himself as the fourth outside linebacker in the rotation in 2020 and contributed on special teams — suffered a significant ankle injury during Monday’s practice. LaFleur was not ready to rule out Ramsey for the entire season, but he also expressed little optimism about him returning in the near future.

“That was not a good injury, and it’s a shame because he’s done so much in terms of bringing that special teams value, but also he’s reliable when we’ve been putting him in there on defense as well, and bringing some much-needed depth to that position,” LaFleur said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, LaFleur also revealed the Martin, the team’s 2020 fifth-round draft pick, would be temporarily sidelined after sustaining an injury of his own at Tuesday’s practice. The Packers had been experimenting with him at the outside linebacker spot due to their depleted numbers and plan to use him in both spots this season.

“We’re a little bit short losing Rambo at the outside ‘backer position, so we’re going to try Kamal in that role,” LaFleur said. “He will be OK, but he did suffer a minor setback with a slight injury there during that one-on-one pass-rush drill. But we’ll just see how long it takes him to get back in the fold, and that is something we’re going to experience with him, both outside and inside.”

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Martin Struggles to Stand Out at ILB

Prior to getting banged up in Tuesday’s practice, Martin was struggling to stand out among the inside ‘backer group in unpadded practices. While returning starter Krys Barnes and new veteran De’Vondre Campbell were presumed to fill out the top two spots on the depth chart, Ty Summers has also been getting preference over Martin through the early sessions of camp.

That’s quite the departure for someone who, as a rookie last summer, seemed poised to earn a place in the Packers’ starting lineup before tearing his meniscus toward the end of camp and spending the first five games of the season on injured reserve.

“I don’t think anything necessarily changed, we’re just trying to let these guys compete and find the best two to go out there at the inside spot,” LaFleur said. “Everybody’s going to have to earn it. No matter who you are, no matter what position, you’ve got to go out there and earn it and we’re going to play the people that give us the best opportunity to win. I love the way Kamal attacks everything he does, and he’s a great kid that puts in a lot of work, but again, he’s got to earn it.”

From the sounds of it, Martin will have an opportunity to “earn it” as both a contributor on the inside and outside. The Packers tried something similar with Oren Burks, their 2018 third-round pick, during the 2020 season, but that experiment seemed rooted more in a desire to find a role for him after he underwhelmed at the inside spot. In Martin’s case, however, it could strictly be a matter of need with Smith and Ramsey not currently practicing.

The Packers have Preston Smith and Rashan Gary to use during first-team reps, but the rest of their outside linebacker depth boils down to 2020 seventh-round pick Johnathan Garvin and a pair of second-year former UDFAs in Tipa Galeai and Delontae Scott. The inside group is also slightly depleted with Martin sidelined and Isaiah McDuffie — the team’s second 2021 sixth-round pick — beginning on the NFI list with a hamstring issue.

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