GREEN BAY - The Packers linebackers have been beset by injuries this season, with 3 of the 4 starters already ruled out for Sunday's game. The last man standing, AJ Hawk, which should come as no surprise.
Over the course of his six plus year career, AJ Hawk's appeared in 115 of a possible 117 regular season games for the Packers. The durable linebacker says the team's refuses to mope in the face of adversity caused by injury.
"We can't sit there and say well why are we so unlucky why are so many guys going down. we have to fight and try and get this thing going in the right direction," Hawk said.
Ask his teammates, or even his coaches, Hawk’s work man like attitude is a tone setter for the team. Head Coach Mike McCarthy was effusive in his praise of Hawk.
"A.J. is extremely consistent in his approach. How he handles different situations. He's had some ups and downs he's had some challenges. He just gives you everything he's got every single day," McCarthy said.
13-year veteran Ryan Pickett added, "He's just got this calm demeanor about him. He's poised he never panics."
Mike Neal is in his first season as a linebacker but he’s seen Hawk’s impact throughout his time in the defensive huddle. "He's definitely the leader of this defense,” Neal said. “I mean he does a lot of things that people don't realize. Just having him and he's always been healthy is something you can count on him and he's just been a great player for us."
Jamari Lattimore, the man who will share the starting inside linebacker duties with Hawk on Sunday said Hawk’s the key to the Packers’ defense running smoothly. "He's a big communicator, like get the play in, get everybody lined up, so he's a very important key to the defense," Lattimore said.
If Hawk's received criticism during his career, it's for not making enough flashy plays. He showed Sunday he can do so given the opportunity with 3 sacks against the Ravens.
Hawk explained how he was able to get to the quarterback so often. "We mixed it up well and came after them a decent amount. We were able to get pressure with our front 4 a decent amount so when we came with 5 and 6 we saw they let some guys go free, especially me."
Pickett said the defensive line gets excited whenever they’re able to open a lane to the quarterback so the linebackers can make a play. That especially rings true with Hawk, who Pickett says makes things happen that don’t show up in the shot column. "He always plays well, even if his name or number's not called. You know he does a lot of the dirty work inside so we was happy to see him have a big game," Pickett said.
Those 3 sacks Hawk tallied against Baltimore matched his season total from 2012. They also are just 3 of the team high 52 tackles he’s made this season.
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