Packers GM Gutekunst had eye on Antonio Morrison since linebacker's college days

Ryan Wood
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GREEN BAY – General manager Brian Gutekunst pulled from his southeastern roots Sunday when he traded for inside linebacker Antonio Morrison.

Gutekunst, a longtime southeast scout, said he “thoroughly investigated” Morrison two years ago when the linebacker entered the draft from the University of Florida.

“He was kind of the heartbeat of that team coming out of Florida,” Gutekunst said. “A lot of passion, very physical. He loves to play ball. It’ll be good to get him out there and see how he fits in.”

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With the Green Bay Packers' inside linebacker depth chart thinned because of injuries, Gutekunst traded cornerback Lenzy Pipkins to the Indianapolis Colts for Morrison.

Morrison instantly gives the Packers inside linebacker depth chart experience. He started 15 games last season for the Colts, playing 75 percent of the snaps. But the Colts were one of the NFL’s worst defenses in 2017, and Morrison had fallen to the third string in camp this month.

It’s unlikely Morrison will play much in passing situations. He’s an early-down linebacker with poor speed, limiting him in pass coverage. But Gutekunst said the 5.1-second 40 Morrison ran two years ago at the NFL scouting combine was misleading because of an injury.

“He did have a time on him,” Gutekunst said. “It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t indicative — I don’t think — of where he was at. He’s not going to set the world on fire with his speed by any means, but he’s kind of an old-school, throwback. Very instinctual, very physical inside linebacker.”

Morrison has had off-field issues in his past. He was arrested twice in a five-week stretch at Florida and suspended for two games. One instance famously came after Morrison barked at a police dog and resisted arrest. Morrison’s reported defense was the dog barked first.

Another arrest at Florida came after Morrison punched a nightclub bouncer because he was not given discounted admission.

Gutekunst said he has no concerns with how Morrison will conduct himself in Green Bay.

“We thoroughly investigated him coming out in the draft,” Gutekunst said, “and felt pretty good about him. He’s had a few years in the league now. So we felt fine.”

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