Packers preseason highlights: Oren Burks flashes potential against Texans

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Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Oren Burks is off to a strong start in his fourth preseason. Burks jumped off the screen against the Houston Texans, totaling a team-high seven tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. It was an encouraging sight for a player who has struggled to find his place with the team.

Last season, the Packers were desperate to trigger some potential, so they moved Burks to outside linebacker to see if his speed would benefit him as a pass rusher. It was a valiant effort, but Burks is now back to his rightful position at inside linebacker.

This offseason, Burks has been a forgotten man. Many wondered if he would even make the final roster. This year, he appears ready to not only make the team but potentially contribute in a big way.

It is no secret that Burks’ performance against Houston is what the team envisioned when they used a third-round draft pick on him in 2018.

For some players, it takes time to find the right footing. Maybe for Burks, 2021 is the year he puts it all together.

Let’s take a look at three plays Burks made last Saturday that showed why he might factor into the Packers’ defense this season.

Play No. 1

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Burks has clearly been working on his technique in the offseason. He uses a precise chop to help him disengage from a would-be Houston blocker. Burks never loses his momentum as he continues to maneuver downhill. Not only are his hands playing fast here, but so are his feet. Green Bay can really use this kind of presence in their run defense.

Play No. 2

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Burks logged a RAS score of 9.73, according to Kent Lee Platte. This is an impressive number that fits the type of athletic pedigree the Packers like to target. Finally, Burks is starting to showcase it. He makes a great pre-snap read to shoot the A gap on this run call. Before the running back even has the ball, Burks has a clear path to the ball. It looks like the mental side of the game is starting to work in conjunction with his supreme athleticism. Burks was unable to make the tackle, but it was enough to blow this play up for a minimal gain and force a fourth down.

Play No. 3

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This play is almost identical to the one before but with a different result. Burks comes charging downhill through the A gap for a sack. He uses great anticipation and timing to break through the line virtually untouched. Texans quarterback Davis Mills never had a chance, as Burks’ speed and mental processing are just too much.

Either the game is slowing down, or Burks is starting to play a lot faster. Perhaps it is a combination of both. Either way, the Packers have to be pleased with Burks’ performance from their first exhibition game of 2021.

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