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Right outside linebacker spot still unsettled

Dec 29, 2011 -- 10:29pm

GREEN BAY – When defensive coordinator Dom Capers said on Monday that the Green Bay Packers are still searching at right outside linebacker, he was obviously serious.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday that Erik Walden, who started the first 15 games at right outside linebacker but hasn’t finished the past two games, may not finish Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions, either.

Asked if Walden was still the starter at the position, McCarthy would not say.

“Erik Walden did not play the whole game last week; he probably will not play the whole game this week,” McCarthy said. “How that rotation breaks out, we’re working different rotations this week. I don’t really want to get into the specifics of it, but others will play.”

Those others could be Brad Jones, who played 18 of a possible 75 snaps against the Chicago Bears last week; Frank Zombo, who has played only 85 snaps this season because of a myriad of injuries but was a healthy scratch against the Bears; or Vic So’oto, who played 26 snaps against the Bears.

Walden, who played only 37 snaps against Chicago, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he was suffering from a stomach virus that caused him to lose seven pounds on Sunday. McCarthy made no mention of Walden’s illness Thursday, however; rather, he indicated that like veteran left tackle Chad Clifton, Zombo needs to play to show where he is after shoulder blade, knee and hamstring injuries earlier in the season.

“I thought from what I saw Frank had a good day, it’s good to have them back out there,” McCarthy said. “We’ve got a number of guys that need to play.”

For his part, Zombo, who registered a sack on Dec. 11 against Oakland, recognizes that the opportunity is there for him to regain the starting job he held for nine games (including Super Bowl XLV) last season.

“I’m always looking for that opportunity to get that spot I played last year, doing what I was doing last year. Hopefully I can knock off some of the rust, get back to the way I was playing and help this team win,” said Zombo, who grew up in Michigan, attended Central Michigan and was a life-long Lions fan until signing with the Packers. “Obviously I always want to be a starter; that’s one of my goals. So obviously I want that. Playing against my hometown team Detroit, I have a lot of family and friends watching. So that’s something I definitely look forward to.”

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