Zombo Ready To Contribute
by Mike Conklin
November 18, 2012
If the Packers are overly concerned about having Clay Matthews out of the lineup, they aren't letting it show. Erik Walden has been productive as of late, and Dezman Moses has at least a little experience since he has been on the field regularly in the "bat" package. But Mike McCarthy reminded us of another player that may help make a difference in Matthews' absence.
"Well, we've got Frank Zombo too," McCarthy said.
In a media session full of questions about Vic So'oto and whether or not Jamari Lattimore may be moved back outside, McCarthy was quick to bring up the name unsolicited of the former rookie standout who is finally ready to see the field again for the first time this season. It may be a clue to how comfortable the Packers may be with Zombo.
"I feel very good about our (depth)," McCarthy continued. "It's the most depth we've had. I don't know exactly where Clay is, but we have four (outside linebackers) and when Clay comes back we'll have five."
It is easy to forget the presence of Zombo since it has been so long since he has set foot on the field. But a keen observer of the team would notice that he really has been there all along. Even when he wasn't practicing, he was often seen interacting with his fellow players at his position on the sideline throughout OTA's and training camp. Even during the games he wasn't able to play he has appeared engaged on the sidelines, talking with players and coaches throughout the course of the game. If you were observing in a vacuum without knowing he weren't playing, he sometimes looks like one of the core guys on the sideline.
The coaches haven't forgotten about Zombo. Not only was McCarthy quick to bring him up, but Dom Capers has expressed confidence in him as well.
"Frank is one of those guys he's going to show up where you want him to show up," Capers said this week. "It will be interesting to see."
Even though Zombo hasn't seen meaningful action is quite some time, Capers knows what he has in the former undrafted free agent.
"Looking back here, Frank Zombo played close to 600 snaps for us (as a rookie)," Capers said last year. "We have an awful lot more confidence in Frank than we did a year ago."
Those comments may be a year removed now, but they speak to the confidence the coaches have in him. His own position coach has faith in him too, and expressed it this week.
“My plan is to get (Zombo) and Moses in a nice little rotation and give them both some snaps and put him in there,” outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said. “I told Frank today, ‘Strap it up and get ready to go.’ I'm excited to see the old Frank Zombo step in there and do some good things.”
For Zombo's part, he's ready to step back on the field and help pick up the slace in Matthews' absence. He is motivated even further by the fact that he's originally from a suburb of Detroit, so this game may feel like it is almost in his back yard.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for for the last couple of months," said Zombo. "I’m looking forward to it, looking forward to going home and looking forward to another opportunity to play football.
“When you’re missing a (three)-time Pro Bowler with an injury, there’s always a little added incentive to go out there and make plays. It’ll be hard to replace a guy like that but, hopefully, with a couple guys rolling in, we can make up for it.”
Going against Matthew Stafford, the player who set the all-time record for most passing yards in a game against the Packers when he threw for 520 yards in the season finale last year, the Packers will need Zombo to play a role.
Photo Credit: Getty Images