On the Bubble: The Linebackers

Jayrone Elliott

As the Packers approach training camp, like every team, there are players who are considered on the “roster bubble.” These players don’t have any guarantees and need to fight for their position or face the possibility of starting a new career. Today, we continue our look at the guys fighting for the final spots on the Packers roster.

After looking at Adrian Hubbard earlier, we need to look at his stiffest competition on the roster. Linebacker, despite being considered a position of weakness by the mainstream media, has a lot of depth and competition to it. Specifically, there are four guys who are competition closely with Hubbard for two of three spots.

Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Jayrone Elliott, and Joe Thomas, are all second or third year player who are either coming off a major injury or, in Elliott’s case, a numbers game last season to get on the field.

Mulumba is a third year outside linebacker from Eastern Michigan who was the surprise of camp back in 2013, making the team as a pass rusher and seeing action in 14 games while starting 3. During that season, he recorded 30 tackles and a single sack, getting extensive action in the playoff game against San Francisco. The 6’3”, 260 pound product is a converted defensive end from the Congo who came into last season with high hopes and made the roster out of training camp, but suffered a serious knee injury after two games. He looks to regain the form that made him a rotational player this camp.

Palmer, like Mulumba, is a third year player out of Illinois State. Unlike Mulumba, he was drafted, a sixth round pick back in 2013. A project from the start, the coaching staff knew that he wouldn’t quite be ready as a rookie, and as such he only saw action in 8 games, starting two. Last season, he was on track to make the roster and contribute before suffering a knee injury in the final preseason game. Making the move to inside linebacker, the converted college end looks to make the team as a backup with potential. His versatility will help him greatly but he has an uphill climb with all the newfound depth from players like Mulumba, Hubbard, Carl Bradford, Jake Ryan, and the other two guys on this list.

Elliott, a 6’3” 255 pound pass rushing specialist, was the surprise of the preseason last season. The Toledo product recorded five sacks in the preseason, including three in a dominating effort against St. Louis. He made the team off those numbers and flashed potential, playing in thirteen games and becoming a core special teams player, recording 14 total tackles. Of all these players, Elliott has the best chance to make the team, as his record is a lot more geared to his all-around game and his health is the best of the four guys.

Thomas, another undrafted rookie last season, impressed in brief time in camp last season before suffering an injury. Considered a dark horse to make the team, he looked very strong at inside linebacker before going on injured reserve. After an injury settlement, he came back after week 8 to the practice squad and his experience might help him in the middle. A natural inside linebacker, Thomas looks to claim the #3 spot on the depth chart, #4 if you consider Clay Matthews. Instinctive and a sound tackler, he has a chance to make some noise in camp.

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Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.

Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.

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2 thoughts on “On the Bubble: The Linebackers

  1. Hey I love Elliott, especially on Special teams but if you remember that 3 sack game against the Rams he was playing against some UDFA scrub that was just pathetic. I have no doubt in mind that poor kids football career was over that following morning. Forever! Personally I’m pulling for Hubbard. He’s putting in the work in Green Bay and with that size….

    1. I agree and I have in my projection article earlier that Hubbard and Elliott both make the team. I like both players potential and work ethic. Both can make a big difference on special teams, especially Hubbard’s size on punt/field goal blocks.

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