UDFA Lattimore Has Chance ... If He Kicks ***

Jamari Lattimore, who tied Erik Walden's single-season record for sacks at Middle Tennessee State, has the speed to get after the quarterback. Now, it's up to him to learn the techniques espoused by his coach, the intense and excitable Kevin Greene.

At outside linebacker, it was undrafted Jamari Lattimore.

At left tackle, it was first-round pick Derek Sherrod.

Like a flash, Lattimore sped past Sherrod's outside shoulder on a beeline to the quarterback, which was being represented by a white mat.

Lattimore isn't your typical 3-4 outside linebacker. Clay Matthews is 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, Frank Zombo is 6-3, 254, Erik Walden is 6-2, 250. Even the 6-foot-3 Brad Jones has bulked up to 242.

Then there's Lattimore, who's listed as 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds.

"I know I have to put on some pounds," Lattimore said. "I'm kind of light in the tail."

But what he's got can't be taught. It's an explosive burst off the line of scrimmage that allowed him to tie Walden's single-season sack record at Middle Tennessee State as a senior. That athleticism is why 11 teams inquired about signing him when undrafted free agency began last month.

"It's a blessing," said Lattimore, who ran the 40 in 4.68 seconds at his pro day in March. "I've just got to learn how to use it all the time and stay consistent."

That's where Kevin Greene comes in. The enthusiastic and superb outside linebackers coach doesn't care about size or strength or speed as much as he cares about what can't be measured: a player's heart.

"No matter how big you are and no matter how small you are, if you are more physical and you do the fundamentals and technique, you're going to kick his ass," Greene said after practice last week. "That's just the way it is. I show that. It's not the size of the dog in the fight. It never has been that. It's always about the size of the fight in the dog. That is true about the NFL. I don't give a (crap) how big you are in the NFL. If you've got a guy who's a bona fide ass-kicker and he does it with technique and fundamentals and the right way, he's' going to kick his ass every time, even though he's a midget."

For a demonstration point for Lattimore, Greene flipped on the film of Jones against Minnesota last season. Facing 370-ish pounds of Pro Bowler Bryant McKinnie, Jones rang up a career-high 10 tackles and a quarterback hit that resulted in A.J. Hawk's interception.

"I showed them the technique that Brad Jones was able to kick his ass and hit him right in the chin with his forehead," Greene said. "He has a lower center of gravity, he has both hands inside and jacks him up. He has leverage and he's kicking his ass."

Greene, who Lattimore met during a pre-draft visit with Green Bay, was one of the major reasons why he landed here. Greene has more sacks (160) than any linebacker in NFL history, with Lattimore aware of his mentor's pass-rushing prowess by playing with him on video games.

"I saw a great opportunity to try to make a ballclub," Lattimore said. "I liked the organization around here and the coaches. Coach Greene is a great guy, a great coach, a great mentor. He's one of the best at what he does, as far as coaching and as a player."

With the Blue Raiders shifting between 4-3 and 3-4 alignments, Lattimore arrived with at least some understanding of his position in Green Bay, if not Greene's specific techniques. Lattimore was the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior after tying Walden's single-season school record and ranking seventh nationally with 11.5 sacks. He added a career-high 68 tackles to go with 15.0 tackles for loss, 10 hurries, two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks.

"He's got natural pass-rushing skills," Walden said. "I think with the help of Coach Greene, he's got a chance to be special if he continues to work hard, keeps his nose clean and stays in that playbook."

That's exactly what Lattimore is doing, put behind the mental 8-ball because of a lockout that robbed him of a chance to start learning the playbook and the techniques more than three months ago.

"With the lockout, we've had to learn everything on the run — fast, fast, fast," he said. "We have to stay up extra hours at home. You have to sacrifice some hours of sleep to get to know the playbook better."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.

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