It’s been more three years since the Green Bay Packers made waves by sitting A.J. Hawk for an entire game.
Now, they get him off the field.
The hardy 29-year-old inside linebacker has played all but two defensive snaps since taking over for Brad Jones as the dime linebacker when Jones exited with a hamstring injury against Detroit last month.
The Packers aren’t turning back, either. Although Jones has played in the last three games, they’ve stuck with Hawk as their everydown linebacker because of how consistency this season.
An ironman who’s played in who’s played in 120 of a possible 122 regular-season games during his eight-year career, Hawk leads the Packers with 80 tackles, four sacks and one pass deflection.
“I just think A.J. has been our most consistent player till this point in time. He’s been able to stay on the field,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “He’s been our leader out there. I think he’s playing his best football since I’ve been here. I think he’s a very stabilizing guy in there. He’s normally going to be where he’s supposed to be. He’s been doing a nice job on the pressures.”
Hawk always has been on a verge of being replaceable, but he continues to be the mainstay at a position that’s lost so many starters over the past few seasons.
Jones played well in the dime sub-package earlier this season, but had been quiet prior to registering 13 tackles and a sack in Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Giants.
Still, the Packers are sticking with Hawk, who stepped up in the pass rush when the defense was without Clay Matthews for four games.
"With Clay being out those few weeks, we kind of turned to him to get some pressure," Capers said. "When he blitzes, he blitzes and he’s normally pretty good for backs trying to block him.
“In terms of week in and week out, he’s probably been the most consistent we’ve had on defense."