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Packers are ‘really lucky’ to have De’Vondre Campbell


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In the middle of Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, quarterback Aaron Rodgers couldn’t help but wonder how the Green Bay Packers were able to sign linebacker De’Vondre Campbell when they did. In June, Campbell was still a free agent. That was until the Packers reached out and signed him to a one-year deal to add a veteran presence to their linebacker room.

Now, Campbell is having a profound impact on and off the field. He’s a vocal leader for the defense and also leads the team in tackles and interceptions. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the second overall linebacker in the NFL with at least 191 snaps.

In Week 5, Rodgers sat back and couldn’t help but be impressed with the new starting linebacker. Once again, Campbell was one of the team’s leading tacklers, but he was also someone continuing to make game-changing plays. Campbell came away with an interception in overtime and also factored into a crucial third-down stop that set up a long field goal miss by the Bengals.

“I was talking on the sideline with; I don’t know if it was (Marquez Valdes-Scantling) or somebody else mid-game,” Rodgers recalled. “But we just said, how in the hell was this guy on the street?”

Campbell has never posted remarkable numbers. He spent last season as a member of the Arizona Cardinals, starting all 16 games and finishing just shy of 100 tackles. Before that, Campbell was with the Falcons for four seasons in Atlanta, where he and Matt LaFleur were together for his rookie year in 2016.

LaFleur recalled how much he loved Campbell’s approach to the game. That same approach has led to 75 career starts and over 500 tackles. The Packers needed someone to lead their young linebackers, and so far, Campbell is doing a superb job.

“I think he’s just a steady, calm voice out there on the field,” LaFleur said via PackersNews.com after their Week 3 win over the San Francisco 49ers. “He’s really done a great job of taking a leadership role, and he’s very, very consistent.”

Through the first five games of the 2021 season, Campbell has been as steady as any Green Bay linebacker in the last decade. He’s been a force against the run and far from a liability when dropping into coverage.

According to PFF, Eric Kendricks is the only linebacker who has been better against the pass. Campbell has logged three pass defenses to go along with his two picks, and when he does surrender a completion, he is quick to wrap up.

If he continues to play at such a high level, Campbell will certainly be in the conversation for his first Pro Bowl, which is crazy for a player who was an afterthought for the entire league. Luckily, the Packers took a chance, and it’s paying off.

“It’s a great pickup by our personnel folks,” Rodgers said Sunday. “He can run, he’s a great tackler, he’s around the ball all the time, (and) he’s a great locker room guy.”

“That’s a guy we’re really lucky to have.”

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