Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) is sacked by Green Bay
Packers inside linebacker A.J. Hawk during the first half of
an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013.
GREEN BAY —
Linebacker A.J. Hawk took an offseason pay cut. He has been
criticized by some Packers fans in the past for a lack of big
plays or being a step slow.
Well, Green Bay
is getting its money's worth so far this year.
veteran has stepped up big inside and provided a steady presence
on a linebacker unit ravaged by injuries heading into Sunday's
game against the Cleveland Browns.
Consistency to coach Mike McCarthy.
he's the same guy every day, and I think that's a huge complement
in a professional environment," McCarthy said Thursday.
"I would hope that I would be viewed that way when my time's
approach may be a reason why Hawk agreed to what amounted to a
three-year, $7.25 million pay cut off the five-year, $33.75
million deal he signed in 2011. He didn't care about how he would
be perceived on the outside. He's comfortable in Green Bay.
on the bridge of his nose, imprinted from his helmet after all
these years making tackles at Green Bay and at Ohio State, is
proof of his experience.
Hawk has the
benefit of perspective. When told that a teammate thought that he
was overlooked, Hawk responded to reporters in the locker room,
"Nah. I think that's a pretty arrogant way of thinking if
Lions' Tony Scheffler catches a pass in front of Green Bay
Packers' A.J. Hawk (50) during the second half of an NFL
football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. The
Packers won 22-9
is we all won the lottery here, man," he said. "You
guys, us, we got a pretty good deal going here. We get to play
football for a living so (no), I never sat there and thought 'woe
is me' or 'poor me' for a second."
games, Hawk has 42 tackles and three sacks — all three coming in
last week's gritty 19-17 win over the Ravens. The sacks were a
career high in one game for Hawk, who came up clutch when Green
Bay was without fellow inside linebacker Brad Jones and
pass-rushing specialist Clay Matthews on the outside.
is likely out for a few more weeks, while Jones' availability for
Sunday doesn't look promising after not practicing so far this
week. Outside linebacker Nick Perry is out now, too, after
suffering a foot injury in the Ravens game.
And to make
matters even worse, Mike Neal, who had stepped in for Matthews,
missed the first two days of practice this week with a bruised
shoulder. That leaves rookies Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer on the
outside for now, with third-year pro Jamari Lattimore starting
inside next to Hawk.
Mulumba had four
tackles last week, while Lattimore had three, including two for
sit here and feel sorry for yourself and really ask why,"
Hawk said, "especially with the numbers of guys we have going
down. But (you've) got to just keep rolling and try to trust
whatever training, what your plan is."
Some of Hawk's
success this season can be attributed to the improved play of the
defensive line. The unit has tightened against the run, ranked
third in the league in allowing just 78.2 yards per game.
pride, the big fellas up front, to stop the run," said
340-pound defensive tackle Ryan Pickett.
He's just as
happy that Hawk is getting recognition. Pickett, who also went to
Ohio State, said Hawk does a lot of "dirty work" that
doesn't always get recorded on the stat sheet.
he's going to be there, every play," Pickett said. "He's
got this calm demeanor about him, poised. He never panics."
had said Friday will be important in determining the
availabilities of Neal and receiver James Jones (knee) for the
Browns. When asked Thursday if Jones was on track, McCarthy
sounded less optimistic. "We'll see ... It's going to be
close." ... Injuries at linebacker and receiver are having a
ripple effect elsewhere. "There's going to be a position or
two that's stressed, (but) I think it clearly would stress special
teams," McCarthy said. ... CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) was a
limited practice participant for a second straight day. The key
defensive back has yet to play this season.