Colts, Packers swap defensive players before preseason wraps

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) INDIANApolis and Green Bay didn’t wait for this
week’s roster moves to start filling holes.

Instead, they cut a deal Sunday.

The Colts traded inside linebacker Antonio Morrison to the Packers
for cornerback Lenzy Pipkins, giving each veteran a chance to
impress their new coaches in this week’s preseason finales – and a
better chance of making the 53-man active roster.

Green Bay already was thin at inside linebacker after incumbent
starter Jake Ryan suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate
ligament in his right knee during training camp. The Packers
suffered another blow when Ryan’s replacement, rookie Oren Burks,
hurt his shoulder during Friday’s pregame warmups and missed the
game against Oakland.

Burks was a third-round draft pick in the spring, but coach Mike
McCarthy said Sunday the injury was less severe than initially
feared and that the injury would not be long term.

Still, they made the move.

”Antonio is obviously an experienced linebacker, and if you look
at the youth of the group, that’s something we felt we needed to
add,” McCarthy said. ”Lenzy’s a good young corner, did some
really good things for us at the end of the year. But we’re very
young at that position.”

Getting Morrison could fill one of Green Bay’s most glaring needs.

The 6-foot-1, 241-pound Morrison played in 31 games with the Colts,
made 19 starts including 15 last season. He finished among the
league’s top 20 in tackles in 2017, leading the Colts with 109.

Morrison was originally the Colts’ fourth-round draft pick in 2016.

But Morrison started sliding down the Colts’ depth chart after new
defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus switched from a 3-4 defensive
front to the more traditional 4-3, a scheme that requires only one
starting inside linebacker. In contrast, Green Bay will continue to
use a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Morrison’s experience also could make him an immediate contributor
with starter Blake Martinez, who had 144 tackles last season and
finished with a share of the league lead. Martinez started next to
undrafted rookie Greer Martini when Burks sat out Friday.

Burks said nobody has given him a timeline for his return and he’s
not sure if he’ll be ready for Green Bay’s season opener Sept. 9
against Chicago.

”Shoulder just popped out. It’s unfortunate but it’s part of the
game,” Burks said. ”Knew something was wrong, obviously, but I’ve
never had any shoulder issues before so I didn’t really know what I
was feeling or any kinds of things like that. Good evaluation, good
feedback from the MRI and things like that.”

Pipkins played in 12 games, mostly on special teams, after making
the Packers as an undrafted rookie last season.

He also moved down the depth chart after Green Bay selected
cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson with its top two picks
in this year’s draft and re-signed free agent Tramon Williams, who
played for Pettine in Cleveland after leaving Green Bay in free
agency following the 2014 season.

”Our two rookies played well in the game,” McCarthy said. ”But I
think it’s just a product of a number of things. It (linebacker) is
a position that we wanted to add experience to, and definitely some
young guys there that we feel good about.”

With an already young secondary, the Colts figured they’d take a
look at the 6-foot, 196-pound Pipkins in Thursday night’s preseason
finale at Cincinnati.

Second-year cornerbacks Quincy Wilson and Nate Hairston both missed
the Colts’ game with injuries.

Pierre Desir, a fifth-year player who made five of his 12 career
starts last season in Indy, and Kenny Moore II, a second-year
player who has impressed coaches, have been the starters this
preseason.

But Pipkins could help the Colts in nickel or dime packages if
Wilson or Hairston are out any significant amount of time.

”We feel like it’s a good fit,” coach Frank Reich said. ”He’s a
guy that our guys had their eyes on. It’s tough with Antonio
because I loved Antonio, I loved the toughness he brought. But I
think this was a move that was best for the team.”

AP Sports Writer Genaro Armas in Milwaukee also contributed to this
article.

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