Reggie Gilbert went from being a member of last year’s practice squad to a reliable pass rusher who can step in and make an impact in 2018. Gilbert’s story is the classic cliche of the underdog overcoming extreme obstacles before finding success. He performed well during the 2017 preseason but didn’t find himself taking meaningful snaps until the last two weeks of the regular season. Currently, after another great training camp and preseason, Gilbert is comfortably on board the final 53-man roster. To the point the Packers even let him rest for the preseason finale in Kansas City in order to prevent injury.
Now begs the question, who is this year’s Reggie Gilbert? Maybe it’s inside linebacker Ahmad Thomas.
Outside linebackers Nick Perry and Clay Matthews were consistently mentioned in the injury report last season making it all the more peculiar as to why the Packers waited to give Gilbert his shot. This year, the same thing may be happening at inside linebacker. First, we saw Jake Ryan tear his ACL and at the moment promising rookie Oren Burks is dealing with a shoulder injury that has an uncertain timetable. Green Bay did trade for Indianapolis Colts’ linebacker Antonio Morrison who is a proven run stopper, but if an injury were to happen to him or Blake Martinez their position would look increasingly thin. Perhaps, like Gilbert, the Packers overlooked Thomas.
On the surface it appeared Thomas was on track to make the team up until cut day. After signing with Green Bay’s practice squad late last season, he made the most of his first offseason as a Packer. Thomas made a few splash plays during the preseason and looked comfortable dropping back in coverage. As a former safety, Thomas fits the mold for the modern day linebacker who can do a little bit of everything. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine even praised his play style calling him an “explosive athlete.”
According to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Thomas showed up at the Packers facility on Sunday expecting to sign with the practice squad but was turned away. He didn’t last long on the waiver wire, however, as not long after he signed to the Colts’ practice squad.
Though it’s too early to tell, the decision to not invest in Thomas is somewhat confusing. The team went with James Crawford as their depth man inside even though his preseason was far more quiet. Green Bay also chose to sign an inferior athlete in Greer Martini to this year’s practice squad. Something behind the scenes could have led to the decision because Thomas’ play on the field suggested he was a player with a ton of potential.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. Brandon graduated from Longwood University in 2016 with a degree in mass media. He has covered the Packers for over two years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.