Jones Reasserts Himself at OLB

Brad Jones, who lost his starting job after getting hurt on the first day of camp, was one of the standouts of Saturday night's scrimmage at Lambeau Field. Don't hand the starting job to Brandon Chillar just yet.

Brad Jones came to play.

Jones and coach Mike McCarthy downplayed the notion, but Jones appeared to be playing as if he had something to prove during Saturday's Family Night Scrimmage.

Of course, he does have something to prove after what transpired earlier in the week.

Jones opened training camp a week ago as the starting left outside linebacker. A bruised back sustained on the first day of camp held him out for a few practices. By the time he returned to the practice field on Thursday, Jones was the backup at right outside linebacker.

The scrimmage started with the No. 1 offense facing the No. 2 defense for the first 13 plays. Lined up against veteran left tackle Chad Clifton, Jones made tackles on three running plays that gained a total of 6 yards. One was on a play run right at him, another was on a play to his left and the other on a run to his sideline. It was an excellent display of strength, technique and athleticism – the same traits that made him one of the team's biggest surprises as a rookie seventh-round pick last year.

"The coaches have their plan of what they're going to do," Jones, flashing his usual smile, told Packer Report when asked if he thought he had something to prove. "I don't know what it is but I'm all for whatever it is. Whatever we decide to do, I'm all for it. I just work here."

McCarthy singled out Jones and a few others as being "extremely active on the defensive side of the ball" during the first totally live practice setting of training camp.

Asked if he was happy with the way Jones responded from the injury and the demotion, McCarthy said: "We don't play with just 11. He suffered the back bruise but he's had a good week of practice. I'll see the film but I thought he was definitely active tonight. I definitely felt his presence and his play."

Jones took McCarthy's praise in stride.

"I think I did OK. I think you're always more critical of yourself than everybody else but I think I did all right," Jones said.

With veteran Nick Barnett getting the night off to rest his surgically repaired knee, A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop were the starting inside linebackers, with Clay Matthews and Brandon Chillar lined up on the outside. When Matthews exited with what McCarthy labeled a "tweaked" hamstring, Jones took over on the left side with the No. 1 defense against the No. 1 offense's two-minute drill.

"We've got some amazing linebackers, man, I'm telling you," Jones said. "We've got great linebackers. We have some real ballhawks."

Jones thinks he's one of them. After replacing Aaron Kampman last season, Jones finished with four sacks in seven starts. Over the course of a 16-game season, that translates to nine sacks – which would be just what this defense needs as it seeks a quality rusher opposite Matthews. A night like this definitely won't hurt his chances of taking the starting job back from Chillar.

"Honestly, that's not my decision," Jones said. "All I can do is play as hard as I can and keep making plays and that's it. I'm happy to be on the team. This is a great team. I have no complaints about anything. I'll just keep making plays and it will sort out. I think everything will sort out."


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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 and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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