It’s been 84 years. At least that’s how long it feels since the Green Bay Packers had an impact inside linebacker.
A.J. Hawk, the team’s all-time leading tackler, was solid, but far from a game-changer. The same can be said about the former fourth-round pick, Blake Martinez. Martinez was a tackling machine, but the impact plays were few and far between.
In 2018 the Packers brought in Antonio Morrison. The following season it was B.J. Goodson. Last season the Packers kicked the tires on Christian Kirksey.
De’Vondre Campbell is the latest linebacker the Packers brought into the fold in an attempt to solidify the middle of their defense. It’s early, but the Packers may have finally found their man.
“It’s a great pickup by our personnel folks,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said regarding Campbell following the Packers’ overtime victory against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. “He can run. He’s a great tackler. He’s around the ball all the time. He’s a great locker room guy…We are so thankful to have him…He’s leading the defense.”
Through five weeks, Campbell is currently tied for fifth in the National Football League with 48 tackles. To go along with that, Campbell has two interceptions, one fumble recovery, and two pass deflections.
Maybe it’s because the Packers have been thirsty for impact plays from their inside linebackers for so long, but Campbell looks like a certified field-tilter.
Through five games in a Packers uniform, Campbell already has three turnovers to his name. In his final four seasons as a Packer, Hawk had three turnovers. During his four-year career, Martinez had seven turnovers.
“De’Vondre is a pretty good-looking specimen,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said back in August. “He’s tall and long. He can cover. He’s got great instincts…He’s really good in coverage…He’s very slippery. He can get skinny and get around linemen. He’s a great tackler…He’s going to bring a different dynamic to our defense.”
The Packers have building blocks at every position on the defensive side of the ball. Kenny Clark is the foundational piece along the defensive line. Rashan Gary is the future on the edge. Jaire Alexander is one of the best, if not the best cornerback in the league. Adrian Amos is as steady as they come at safety.
If Campbell can continue to provide an impact in the middle of Joe Barry’s defense he could finally turn a position that’s been an ugly mole into a beauty mark.
More importantly, he could be the type of player that could help the Packers get over the hump and get back to the Super Bowl in what’s being billed as the “Last Dance” in Green Bay. For a team to reach and win the Super Bowl, everybody has to play their role and Campbell is playing his beautifully right now for the 4-1 Packers.