Today, on Homer’s ESPN radio Milwaukee show, Jason Wilde made an official prediction that Brady Poppinga would not be starting come early September. Without going into great detail explaining why he believes this, he did mention that Poppinga would likely still see action in a 3-3-5 lineup that would have him as the 3rd linebacker either dropping in coverage or rushing the QB. He noted Poppinga has a developed talent for rushing the QB (did this a lot in college) and his thought was that he’d be used more in situational moments, but not as a starter.
Interesting. While I do worry that my ripping so hard on Poppinga for the last two years will come back to haunt me as he goes on to have a break-out year because he unleashes the wild side that he’s held in check for whatever reason – I’m more inclined to believe he’ll continue on his same path of mediocre to poor play. Chillar seems at least like a capable fill-in, though I’d have been a lot more excited if Desmond Bishop were given more of a chance at this LB position instead of being stuck behind Barnett.
Anyway, my initial reaction to Wilde’s prediction is that he will be wrong. I think Poppinga will get the nod mostly because of the experience he’s gained in the defensive scheme as well as the possibility that with an increased comfort level, he may play more instinctively. But if he does not step up and play like the monster that may be within, I think MM will be quick to turn to Chillar after even just a few games. As much as Poppinga is a likeable guy, he has not performed adequately and the coaches, players, fans and GM are all aware of this, so like Collins, this year will be the real and possibly final test.
STEVE ADDS: Interesting. Something is going on with the LBs. This was from Greg Bedard yesterday: “Without divulging what the situation and other personnel were, the Packers had four linebackers on the field at one point: Brandon Chillar, A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett and Brady Poppinga. I saw that on more than one occasion during the mini-camp.” I wonder why he couldn’t divulge the situation? Ground rules for covering practice? Anyway, as I say, it’s interesting.