After signing two linebackers on Tuesday, the Packers added outside linebacker Erik Walden and nose tackle Howard Green on Wednesday.
The Packers are desperate for defensive help. One day after putting Brady Poppinga on injured reserve because of a knee injury, the Packers put fellow outside linebacker Brad Jones on injured reserve on Wednesday because of a shoulder injury sustained Sunday against Minnesota. Green will help bolster a defensive line that lost second-round pick Mike Neal to a season-ending shoulder injury and could be without starting ends Cullen Jenkins (calf) and Ryan Pickett (ankle) for Sunday's game against the Jets
"Well, we're going to show up and play," coach Mike McCarthy said on Wednesday.
Jones walked off the field twice during the Vikings game while favoring his right arm but returned and played his best the game of the season, according to McCarthy. When McCarthy met reporters early Wednesday afternoon, he indicated no decision had been made on Jones' future for this season, only that Jones would require surgery at some point.
Jones played in six games with five starts. After recording four sacks in seven starts last year, Jones didn't have any sacks this year but was generally stout against the run. He applied the late pressure on Brett Favre on Sunday that resulted in A.J. Hawk's interception and Favre's ankle injury.
"I definitely feel like I played well," Jones said Wednesday, refusing to answer questions about his shoulder. "When you're out there, you've got to go, you know? The team needs you, you go. Yeah, I thought I played well."
Walden and Diyral Briggs are outside linebackers and Matt Wilhelm is an eight-year veteran who has spent most of his career playing inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Walden and Wilhelm worked out for the team on Tuesday (along with former Oregon defensive end/linebacker Nick Reed), Fox Sports' Adam Caplan told Packer Report. Briggs was signed off of waivers after playing last week for the Broncos.
"I'm excited about having the three linebackers," McCarthy said. "Particularly, and what I told them in the team meeting today, they are going to have an opportunity to make an impact on our special teams. I think our special teams improved. I thought they were productive against Minnesota and we have had a lot of change, but I think there is definitely more to get out of our special-teams units. They will be given that opportunity first, and frankly, just having fresh bodies out there, and we'll get them acclimated to our system as fast as we can. It's good to have all three of those guys."
Wilhelm (6-4, 247) spent last season with San Francisco but was released at the end of camp this summer with an injury settlement because of a third-degree tear of an MCL. The injury didn't require surgery, only a six-week rehab, he said. With A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop starting and Brandon Chillar in reserve, Wilhelm's role will be on special teams.
"That's what I've been told," he said. "As of this point, the terminology and everything (on defense) … the concepts are the same but the terminology is very different. That's something I'll have to sit back and listen to and pick up on everything I can. In two weeks, we have a bye and coach Winston Moss has said we'll meet extensively to kind of catch me so that for the stretch run, the playoff run, hopefully I'll be able to contribute defensively. For now, it's special teams."
It's been a whirlwind for Briggs (6-3, 248). One week, he was on the Broncos' practice squad. Then, he was promoted for last week's game against Oakland. By Monday, he was out of a job. Denver hoped to re-sign him to its practice squad but the Packers put in a waiver claim.
"Round and round it goes, where I stop, who knows. That's how it's been," he said.
Briggs, an undrafted rookie in 2009, had 26 sacks during his career at Bowling Green and he's itching for a chance to show what he can do on defense after playing in five games for San Francisco and one for Denver.
"A lot more blitzing," Briggs said when comparing the Packers' scheme to his prior ones. "Being at San Fran, we didn't have that blitz-type scheme, just coming from everywhere. This is what I like about here is they're very aggressive and like to blitz the quarterback and I like to blitz. I feel like that fits me well. It's a great opportunity for me, it really is. At Denver, I just really wish I had a chance to show that. I think here, they will give me a chance."
Walden (6-2, 250) is a third-year player out of Middle Tennessee State. He was a sixth-round pick by Dallas in 2008. He failed to make the Cowboys' roster but played in 14 games for the Chiefs (eight) and Dolphins (six) in 2008, 11 games for Miami in 2009 and two games for Miami in 2010.
Green (6-2, 340) was claimed off waivers from the Jets, with the announcement coming after practice and the daily media session. Green, a sixth-round pick by Houston on 2002, has played in 51 games. He's started 12 games in his career, all with New Orleans in 2004, when McCarthy was offensive coordinator. He'll hopefully add depth at nose tackle, where B.J. Raji has been playing far too many snaps.
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