Packers trade CB Lenzy Pipkins for Colts linebacker Antonio Morrison
GREEN BAY — As it turns out, it was mostly a coincidence that the Green Bay Packers added an inside linebacker via a trade on Sunday, less than 48 hours after losing Oren Burks to a shoulder injury during pregame warmups before their loss to the Oakland Raiders on Friday night.
The Packers acquired inside linebacker Antonio Morrison from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for cornerback Lenzy Pipkins Sunday, but the bigger news was this: Burks, who was feared to have dislocated his shoulder, isn’t in as rough of shape as the Packers initially feared.
“Actually, it’s better than we anticipated, so it should not be a long-term deal,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Sunday, when asked about Burks’ injury.
Burks said he’d never suffered a shoulder injury before and that the Packers “don’t really have a timeline” for his return. The Packers open regular-season play in 14 days with a Sunday Night Football meeting with the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Sept. 9. Burks only said that he hoped he’d be able to return quickly.
“That’s what it’s looking like,” Burks said Sunday. “I didn’t really think much of it (when it happened). Knew something was wrong, obviously, but I’ve never had any shoulder issues before, so I didn’t really know what I was feeling or any kinds of things like that. (We got a) good evaluation, good feedback from the MRI and things like that. Like I said, just taking it one day at a time, trying to get rehabbed and get back as soon as possible.”
Burks, a rookie third-round pick from Vanderbilt, is slated to start alongside third-year inside linebacker Blake Martinez in the Packers’ base defense after veteran Jake Ryan tore the ACL in his right knee during an Aug. 1 practice. With Burks unable to play against the Raiders, first-year man Ahmad Thomas and undrafted rookie Greer Martini saw extensive playing time.
“Those dudes stepped up. (I’m) super proud of them,” Burks said. “Those are the guys I’ve been working with this whole time, so I’m very confident in their play. It’s a new opportunity. Like when I had to step up, it’s time for them to step up. It’s just next-man-up mentality, and that’s kind of what we pride ourselves on in that linebacker room.”
Joining that room is the 6-foot-1, 241-pound Morrison, a 2016 fourth-round pick from Florida who started 15 games last season for Indianapolis and led the Colts defense with 109 tackles. But the Colts signed ex-Philadelphia Eagles starter Najee Goode during the offseason, making Morrison expendable.
“I loved Antonio, I loved the toughness he brought,” Colts coach Frank Reich told Indianapolis-area reporters. “But (we) just thought it was the best move for the team.”
As for Pipkins, who made the team as an undrafted free agent last summer out of Oklahoma State, adding first-round pick Jaire Alexander and second-round pick Josh Jackson at the position gave the Packers an overabundance of young talent there.
Asked if the trade would have happened without Burks’ injury, McCarthy replied, “Yeah, I would think so. These things don’t just usually happen overnight. The personnel departments around the league, obviously there’s a lot of conversation going on through camp.
“Lenzy’s a good young corner, did some really good things for us at the end of the year. But we’re very young at that position. (Inside linebacker) is a position that we wanted to add experience to, and (there’s) definitely some young guys there that we feel good about.”
Quarterback battle continues
The Packers’ protection problems on the offensive line against the Raiders made it difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions from the performances of backup quarterbacks Brett Hundley (8 of 14, 78 yards, 72.9 rating) and DeShone Kizer (11 of 23, 120 yards, 63.7 rating). Starter Aaron Rodgers didn’t play in Oakland and it may take Thursday’s preseason finale at Kansas City to decide who’ll be Rodgers’ primary backup. Rookie Tim Boyle did not see action against the Raiders.
“Just looking at the whole position, I’m pleased with all four of those guys,” McCarthy said. “They’ve all had very productive (camps) — not only just the games but in practice, as far as the way they’re graded. It was a tough night for both quarterbacks.
“I thought Brett’s start (on a field-goal drive to open the game) was probably the highlight of the night for us offensively. He had four throws on that first series that were exceptional. DeShone’s getting better. Tim didn’t get a chance just because our reps were low for the first time this preseason. We’ll definitely get him work in Kansas City.”