The Green Bay Packers are a team all about drafting and developing players. And because of that, they tend to finish seasons strong as young players continue to improve and take the next step in their development. Just last Sunday, when the Packers upended the Patriots 26-21, the latest young player to breakout was inside linebacker Sam Barrington.
Barrington, who was a seventh-round draft pick out of South Florida in the 2013 NFL Draft, along with Clay Matthews, may finally be the long awaited answer at middle linebacker for the Packers. The second-year player is far from elite like Matthews, but he does bring something–namely speed, athleticism and a physical presence inside that others in the Green Bay linebacking core–such as A.J. Hawk simply don’t.
Against the Patriots, there were a number of times when Barrington made his presence felt. He had two great tackles on Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount on his way to a total of five tackles and an important pass breakup.
This comes off the heels of the Chicago game when Barrington registered four tackles and a sack. Now, he is playing the inside position in the Packers’ nickel defense, which is essentially defensive coordinator Dom Capers base defense. If that trend continues, Barrington will undoubtedly get more snaps per game than Hawk and will have every chance to build himself a more permanent place on the defense for next season.
Right now though, Barrington has added a physical presence in the nickel defense alongside Matthews that the Packers have desperately been missing. His play against the Patriots was a revelation and a big reason why the Green Bay defense was able to hold the potent New England offense to just 21 points. His emergence is just another reason why the stock of the Packers defense is definitely on its way up.