Packers could stick with Lattimore
The Green Bay Packers haven't finalized their plans at inside linebacker for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, but the early signs point toward Jamari Lattimore staying put next to A.J. Hawk.
Lattimore has played well in two starts in place of an injured Brad Jones, who returned to practice this week but is still limited with a lingering quad injury.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said those decisions will be made during Friday's game-management meetings, but there doesn't seem to be any reason to rush Jones back. Lattimore, a former undrafted free agent, has 17 tackles in his stead.
Jones first suffered the injury near the end of the preseason. He tried to return for the Packers' regular-season opener against Seattle, but struggled. According to Pro Football Focus, the sixth-year linebacker had as many tackles (three) as missed attempts in the 36-16 defeat.
A former defensive end at Middle Tennessee State, Lattimore still has his limitations in coverage, which is one area the Packers prefer the 6-foot-3 Jones when he's healthy.
When asked about Lattimore's performance, linebackers coach Winston Moss said: "Some good plays and some plays he needs to improve on." He also added how they'll integrate Jones back into the game plan is "up in the air."
Lattimore left briefly with a cramp injury in Sunday's 19-7 loss to Detroit, which forced second-year linebacker Sam Barrington onto the field. A seventh-round pick in 2013, Barrington played only one defensive snap prior to facing the Lions.
The Packers will have to weigh Lattimore's production in Jones' place against what they believe Jones is capable of when closer to 100 percent. When he's been healthy, the Packers have leaned toward having Jones as their dime linebacker who is responsible for play calls.
"Once Brad gets back and is healthy, I think it will give us more flexibility," Capers said. "I like what Jamari's done. He gives us another athlete. We'll see where Brad is from a health standpoint. He's practiced the last couple days."
One player who feels better about his chances at playing Sunday is outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who told a small group of reporters following Thursday's locker room that he believes he'll play Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Matthews injured his groin in the third quarter against the Lions. He exited two plays later and didn't return, though he's been a limited participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday.
"Yeah, I'll be out there," said Matthews, via ESPN.com and ESPN Wisconsin.
Linebacker Nick Perry (wrist) was the only other limited participant.