Ahmad Brooks provides Packers with multiple pass-rush options
GREEN BAY – Until veteran linebacker Ahmad Brooks learns Dom Capers’ entire scheme, the Green Bay Packers won’t really know the best way to use him, but the one thing they don’t have to teach him is how to pass rush.
When the Packers take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Lambeau Field, Brooks is going to be active and ready to join Clay Matthews and Nick Perry in putting pressure on quarterback Russell Wilson from the outside linebacker position.
Brooks practiced in pads with the Packers for the first time Thursday, but he already had caught the eye of someone important in one key area.
“I thought he really stood out in the pass under pressure, the pass rush drill (Wednesday),” coach Mike McCarthy said before practice Thursday. “That was impressive.”
Brooks most likely will rotate in and give Matthews or Perry a break from time to time in early-down situations. On third downs, however, Capers can get all three players on the field at the same time, moving any of the three inside and rushing the other two from the outside.
"I think his knowledge and know-how will really help this defense out, specifically the outside linebacker group," Matthews said. "Hopefully we’ll have some times where you’ll see three elephants as we call ourselves, outside linebackers, on the field, to kind of take advantage of our pass-rush ability and we’ll see what he can bring to the table.
"But if it’s anything like he’s been able to do in the past it should be a big, physical pass rusher who can collapse the pocket and get after the quarterback.''
Capers also has flipped his outside linebackers with the defensive tackles and that could set up a scenario where he rushes all three from the inside. In that case, Matthews or Brooks would have to be the nickel or dime linebacker, but that wouldn’t be foreign to either guy.
“I feel like I can do anything,” Brooks said. “I feel like I can play middle linebacker, I feel like I can play defensive end in a 4-3… well, I wouldn’t say that. That’s really difficult. But five-technique (end in a 3-4), that’s not hard.”
Brooks began his career as an inside linebacker and wore many different hats playing in former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s scheme. As the season wears on, Capers will figure out ways to use Brooks in multiple positions, but for right now he needs to catch him up on all the different blitzes and looks the Packers use.
Brooks, who signed Sunday and will have had four days of practice under his belt when the Packers play the Seahawks, doesn’t need to be taught what to do when it comes to chasing the quarterback. He has 53½ career sacks and averaged six per year from 2009 to ’16.
What’s more, he has played against the Seahawks twice a year as a member of the 49ers and has six sacks in his last six games against them. So, the Packers believe he can help them right away.
“Ahmad looks really good,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, he’s gone through a training camp and he’s ready to go. I think he’s making the adjustment pretty smoothly frankly to do what we’re asking him to do.
“But he seems comfortable schematically on how we’re using. I thought he got off to an excellent start.”
Brooks said he’s doing a lot of watching both of teammates in practice and on film to help push along his familiarity with the defense. He said the terminology is different than what the 49ers used and there are some adjustments to be made because he was working in San Francisco’s new 4-3 defense all camp long.
“Just watch,” he said. “Extra time, extra meeting with the coaches, study on your own and then you go out there and get as many repetitions as you can. That’s it.”