DE Datone Jones: Rookie first-round pick had minimal impact after showing All-Oneida moves on the offseason practice field, having come from a nearly identical defensive system at UCLA to what the Packers run. Ended up playing 276 snaps, mostly in sub packages, and had 19 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Will need to be a major contributor in Year 2.
DE Josh Boyd: Rookie fifth-round pick saw his role expand late in the season as he even started taking snaps away from Jones in sub packages. Was inactive for seven of the first nine games but played the rest of the season and finished with six tackles in 117 snaps. Depending on how many linemen don’t return, he should have a significant role in 2014.
DE C.J. Wilson: Big-bodied run stuffer who will be a free agent. Carved out a niche before injuries again were a factor. Played 127 snaps and was credited with five hurries. Could be back on a low-money deal but appears to be just a guy at this point.
DE Jerel Worthy: Opened the season on the physically unable to perform list after blowing out his knee in the 2012 regular-season finale and was active for only two regular-season games, plus the playoff loss. Second-round pick played 467 snaps as a rookie in 2012 but only 14 snaps this year. Facing a key offseason after missing last year’s rehabbing the knee.
OLB Clay Matthews: After four consecutive Pro Bowl selections, Matthews broke his thumb twice and the Packers felt the agony. Missed four games after breaking it on Oct. 6, and was completely useless in his return on Nov. 10 against Philadelphia while playing with a restrictive club cast protecting it. Shed that cast for a fiberglass cast that gave him use of his fingers, and that’s what he had on when he broke his thumb again against Pittsburgh on Dec. 22. Might have been back for an NFC Championship Game berth or Super Bowl. Finished the year playing 571 snaps and registering 7.5 sacks, four quarterback hits and 21 hurries. After $66 million extension in the offseason, you can bet he’ll be raring to go in 2014 to prove his worth.
OLB Mike Neal: Conversion from defensive end went better than even outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene, who first came up with the idea, expected. Played 751 snaps, the most of any outside linebacker, and finished with five sacks, four quarterback hits and a team-high 37 hurries. Will be an unrestricted free agent and after staying healthy all year, he could garner interest from teams predicting big things for him. Packers must be careful with the 2010 second-round pick, given his propensity for injury. Couldn’t finish playoff loss to 49ers because of a knee injury.
OLB Nick Perry: The 2012 first-round pick’s indoctrination to the position continues to be slowed by injuries. After playing only six games as a rookie before season-ending wrist surgery, a foot injury suffered Oct. 13 at Baltimore – on a rare big play, when he forced a fumble just before halftime to set up a key field goal – nagged him the rest of the year. By season’s end, undrafted rookie Andy Mulumba was starting ahead of him when Matthews was out. Played 433 snaps and had five sacks (including one against the 49ers) to go along with 23 hurries. Needs to stay healthy for Packers to see what they actually have in him.
OLB Andy Mulumba: Undrafted free agent was green as grass but became the latest undrafted outside ‘backer to make an impression. Played 361 snaps and had one sack and nine hurries. Saw action in 15 games including the playoff game and has valuable experience moving forward as he tries to prove he can pick up the position.
OLB Nate Palmer: Sixth-round pick from Illinois State was kept on the 53-man roster coming out of camp based on potential, not performance. Even with injuries at the position, played only 200 snaps and was inactive for the playoff game, when the Packers could have used him after injuries to Neal and Mulumba forced them to play Datone Jones at linebacker.
ILB A.J., Hawk: Eight-year veteran took a pay cut to stay in Green Bay and delivered his best season. Served as every-down linebacker, even in the dime, after injuries hit and finished with a team-high 153 tackles to go along with five sacks, an interception and one forced fumble in 1,078 snaps. May never live up to 2006 No. 5 overall pick status but was active all season and solid in calling the defense.
ILB Brad Jones: One of the great mysteries of the offseason was the team’s decision to pay him a three-year, $11.75 million deal that included a $3 million signing bonus. In 2012, he played 828 snaps and had a plus-7.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. In 2013, he was hampered by a hamstring injury and played 649 snaps and had a minus-6.9 grade. He finished with four sacks (including one in the playoffs) along with three quarterback hits and four hurries.
ILB Jamari Lattimore: Injury fill-in for Jones who at times outplayed the guy he was replacing. Inconsistency, though, was his downfall. Still vital to special teams but played only 272 snaps. Showed a knack for playmaking but must improve on mental side of the game to legitimately challenge for a every-down job.
ILB Robert Francois: Quiet veteran who was vital to special teams ruptured his Achilles’ tendon against Detroit on Oct. 6 and underwent season-ending surgery. A tough injury at a tough time, as he’ll be a free agent.
ILB Sam Barrington: Rookie seventh-round pick parlayed a solid training camp into a spot on the 53-man roster. Only saw action on one defensive snap but showed toughness on special teams. A hamstring injury ended his season after playing in seven games.
ILB Victor Aiyewa: Practice-squad call-up didn’t see action on defense after being promoted to the 53-man roster on Nov. 27. Posted five special teams tackles.
CB Sam Shields: Former college wide receiver continued his metamorphosis and became the team’s top cover man. Played 902 snaps and had a team-best four regular-season interceptions. Per Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks had a 72.7 passer rating when throwing at him. Played under the $2.023 million RFA tender and is prepared to cash in on the open market. Could command between $8 million and $9 million a year.
CB Tramon Williams: The secondary’s elder statesman, he played 1,124 snaps and appeared to regain his 2010 form to a certain extent by season’s end. Opposing QBs completed 53 of 93 passes against him with four touchdowns (78.0 rating) as Williams had four INTs (including one in the playoffs) and six pass breakups. With a $9.5 million cap number for 2014, he may need to restructure his deal.
CB Micah Hyde: Rookie fifth-round pick came into NFL from Iowa acting like a longtime pro. Will be haunted by dropped INT that might have won last Sunday’s NFC Wild Card Playoff game but acquitted himself well for most of the season. Played 448 snaps and regained nickel job after temporarily losing it at midseason for mental errors. Some see him as a candidate to move to safety, but that has not yet been discussed by coaches.
CB Davon House: Up-and-down season saw him see extensive action midway through the year when Williams was working in the slot as the nickel, but then was the forgotten man again. Pigeonholed as strictly an outside player, he played 533 snaps and finished with one interception and 13 pass breakups, plus a sack.
CB Casey Hayward: What a disappointing, lost season for a player with such promise. As a rookie second-round pick in 2012, he intercepted a team-high six passes. This year, he was limited to three games and 88 snaps by a hamstring injury that dated back to before training camp opened. He reinjured it on Aug. 23 and again on Nov. 10. His return next season will be welcomed.
CB Jarrett Bush: Veteran special teamer reemerged as a viable sub on defense during the second half of the season, playing 129 snaps as the team’s dime back. Had an interception and victory-clinching pass breakup against Atlanta on Dec. 8 but botched his assignment to contain 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick while blitzing from the left tackle side on a third-and-8 play late in last Sunday’s loss. Kaepernick scrambled past him for 11 yards and a first down that set up the game-winning field goal.
CB James Nixon: Speedy practice-squad call-up who played only two defensive snaps before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
CB Jumal Rolle: Late-season promotion from practice squad who did not play after being called up to the 53-man roster before the regular-season finale at Chicago.
S Morgan Burnett: Signed a five-year, $24.75 million extension in the offseason. Not the kind of kid who’d get fat, happy and complacent after getting paid, but he certainly didn’t play like the difference-maker his paycheck would indicate he’d be. Played 938 snaps after missing the first three games with a hamstring injury and failed to register an interception. Did not force a fumble, either. Did have 107 tackles and three fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown, but simply was not an impact player. Should have made a play on Kaepernick’s touchdown pass to Vernon Davis last Sunday. Charged with four touchdowns given up by Pro Football Focus, which had opposing QBs racking up a 135.8 rating against him.
S M.D. Jennings: Beat out 2012 fourth-round pick Jerron McMillian, who would be released later in the season, in training camp for the starting job alongside Burnett. Basically started all year by default, as McMillian, Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo weren’t deemed any better by coaches. Played 855 snaps and allowed 16 completions and five touchdowns on 18 targets, according to Pro Football Focus, for a passer rating of 148.8 by opposing QBs. Had one sack, no interceptions and only two pass breakups.