Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

With injuries obliterating the depth at outside linebacker, the Packers moved Datone Jones outside for about a half-dozen snaps on Sunday.

The Green Bay Packers drafted Datone Jones in the first round with the San Francisco 49ers in mind.

They didn't have this in mind, though.

While the Packers envision Jones becoming a three-down defender, his initial role would be as an athletic interior pass rusher – a chess piece against athletic San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Due to injuries, however, Jones was thrust into the lineup at outside linebacker.

With Clay Matthews out with an injured thumb and rookie Nate Palmer inactive, as well, the Packers rolled the dice with just three outside linebackers for Sunday's playoff game. Two of them, Mike Neal (abdomen) and Nick Perry (foot/ankle), had been regulars on the injury report for most of the season. The third, Andy Mulumba, is an undrafted rookie.

When Neal injured a knee on the first series of the game, the Packers were left with just Perry and Mulumba. And when Mulumba sustained a knee injury on the 49ers' second possession of the second half, Perry was the last man standing at the most important position in defensive coordinator Dom Capers' scheme.

In stepped Jones, who finished the series in which Mulumba was injured. While Mulumba returned on the next series, Jones played a half-dozen snaps at outside linebacker.

"We have a big nickel group," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Datone's actually played some outside linebacker in the opponent stuff. So, he's familiar with that. He jumped in there and it was pretty seamless."

Jones didn't record any statistics, though he had one strong play. Jones stuffed the fullback, which allowed Mike Daniels and Perry to stop Kendall Hunter for a 1-yard gain.

"I'm prepared to play any position on the front seven," Jones said. "I know everything, and I'm very athletic and I can pretty much do it all. A lot of the times, you see me spying quarterbacks and chasing them down from the back end. I'm strong enough, athletic enough to play anywhere. I worked on it a lot in practice, played linebacker in practice a lot. It wasn't nothing new for me."

Neal and cornerback Sam Shields sustained knee injuries on the first series of the game. McCarthy did not have an update on their condition. Both players are set to become unrestricted free agents.

The Packers also lost left tackle David Bakhtiari to a concussion one play before fullback John Kuhn's 1-yard, go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Marshall Newhouse played the Packers' final possession.

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

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