Green Bay Packers: Nate Palmer turning heads in training camp


“He’s just a natural football player.”

Those were the words Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy used to describe Nate Palmer last week. Palmer has been one of the few surprises in camp for the Packers so far.

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Palmer has been receiving a lot of snaps for the Packers so far in training camp at the inside linebacker position. In fact, he’s probably received the third-most snaps at inside linebacker behind Sam Barrington and Clay Matthews. The longer Matthews rests his sore knee, the more snaps Palmer will be seeing with the No. 1 unit.

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Palmer was a late position switch last year. The Packers decided to switch Palmer, who played outside linebacker for the team in 2013, to inside linebacker for the final game of the preseason last year. Palmer ended up getting injured and missed all of last season because of a knee injury.

Heading into this training camp, not much was said about Palmer and his chances of being a player that could help upgrade the inside linebacker spot. Eyes were on Barrington, Matthews, rookie Jake Ryan, and second-year pro Carl Bradford.

During the first training camp practice Palmer was getting reps with the second-team defense. Now, with Matthews resting a sore knee for an unknown amount of time, Palmer could be getting more reps with the No. 1 defense in their base package. Palmer was even getting snaps with the No. 1 defense in certain sub packages when Matthews would line up at outside linebacker.

So the question remains, can Palmer be a fixture for the Packers at inside linebacker?

Palmer no doubt has the physical traits that make him an intriguing option at inside linebacker. Standing at 6’2″ and 250 pounds, he is a bigger presence than what the Packers had with A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, and Jamari Lattimore last year.

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  • In reality though, it’s still a bit too early to call Palmer a fixture at the inside linebacker spot. Palmer has been impressing the coaching staff in training camp with his play thus far. If Palmer can help the Packers defense in stopping the run, that will give him an edge in earning more playing time and solidifying his spot on the depth chart.

    The Packers need to improve their run defense and that’s a big reason why Matthews is playing inside. If Palmer can show he is capable of being a player that can help stop the run, his stock rises with the team. He has the size to be able to take on ball carriers and bring them down.

    Where Palmer can really earn his mark is with the preseason games starting next week. If Palmer can take what he is doing on the practice field and implement it on preseason game days, Palmer has a real good chance at getting some playing time on that Packers defense when it comes to the regular season.

    Maybe Palmer is that unknown player that ends up being a contributor for the Packers this season. Not many gave him any realistic shot at being a serviceable option at inside linebacker this year, but obviously the coaches saw something in him early, and so far it’s paying in dividends.

    Palmer is an intriguing option for the Packers. It’s a story line everyone will be following for the next few weeks to see if he can take this opportunity and run with it. If Palmer is able to adapt to his new position quickly and play it well, the Packers defense will be in very good shape as the season starts. It greatly improves their depth at a position they so desperately needed to upgrade.

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