Packers shake things up at inside linebacker position

If you would’ve asked Green Bay Packer fans at the start of the season, based off last year’s production and reps, who the starters would be at the inside linebacker position this season, I think we pretty much all would’ve been in agreement.

Second-year players Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes both spent a good amount of time on the field. While both were raw in year one, they showed flashes of solid potential.

They were primed to be the duo of the future for the Packers defense.

Alas, what seemed to be written in the stars is no more.

Kamal Martin, a fifth round pick out of Minnesota in 2020, was released on Monday. This comes on the heels of a rookie season filled with ups and downs – and a dismal few weeks of training camp.

“Kamal was a great teammate and did everything we asked him to do, but sometimes you have to make tough decisions,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said on Tuesday.

Martin was one of the best surprises of last season’s training camp. He worked his way into the starting lineup and was an aggressive player who fans were excited about. After an up-and-down rookie season that saw good games, bad ones and a knee injury, fans were ready to see him take a step in year two.

But we quickly realized that chances of that happening were slim after reports came out that Martin was taking reps at outside linebacker near the beginning of camp under new defensive coordinator Joe Barry.

Plus, he was stuck near the bottom of the depth chart at the inside linebacker position. De’Vondre Campbell, Oren Burks, Ty Summers and Barnes were all ahead of him.

So what happened?

LaFleur made mention that the knee injury, which held him out of last season for six weeks and required surgery, was tough on Martin. Also, there’s a chance that Barry wasn’t as high on him as former coordinator Mike Pettine.

His play noticeably has slipped, too. Martin seemed lost on many occasions during the Jets game last weekend.

I’m sure Martin will land somewhere else and get another shot before it’s all said and done.

That doesn’t take away the fact that his training camp getting cut short was a bit of a surprise to all of us.

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Gunnar Davis is a lifelong Packers fan and a recent graduate of Simpson College, where he was a 3-year letterwinner on the offensive line and graduated with a degree in multimedia communications. You can follow him on Twitter at @Gunnar57Davis.

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