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Packers Bolster Outside Linebackers By Claiming Justin Hollins

A fifth-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2019, Justin Hollins has seven career sacks.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers have claimed Justin Hollins off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams, a source confirmed on Wednesday night. He will add depth at outside linebacker.

Hollins was a fifth-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2019. He lasted one season there, was released at the end of training camp in 2020 and was claimed off waivers by the Rams.

Hollins missed most of last season with a torn pectoral but had a key stop of Joe Mixon in the Super Bowl to set the stage for the Rams’ championship-winning drive.

“I think he really established himself as a legitimate outside backer,” Rams coach Sean McVay said in November.

With Von Miller joining the Buffalo Bills, Hollins wound up starting three of the first four games and five times overall this season. He entered the season hoping to reach 10 sacks. Instead, he had one sack and one forced fumble.

“Definitely some of his pass-rush moves,” Hollins said of what he learned from Miller. “There’s some things he was able to teach a lot of us in the room along the way, about little moves here and there and how things really work.”

The knowledge didn’t translate to production. According to Pro Football Focus, 83 edge defenders have had at least 140 snaps rushing the passer this season. Hollins ranks last in that group in PFF’s pass-rushing productivity, a stat that measures sacks, hits and hurries per pass-rushing snap and 82nd in pass-rush win rate.

For his career, he has seven sacks. He posted career highs of three sacks and five quarterback hits in 2020. In the 2020 playoffs at Green Bay, he had four tackles and three pressures.

The Packers have been thin at outside linebacker since Rashan Gary suffered a torn ACL at Detroit in Week 9. The Packers elevated La’Darius Hamilton from the practice squad the last two weeks, joining starters Preston Smith and Kingsley Enagbare and backup Jonathan Garvin in a four-man rotation.

The Packers will announce the transaction on Thursday; they cleared a space on Wednesday by releasing running back Patrick Taylor.

For Hollins, this might be a welcome change of scenery with a familiar face with Joe Barry as defensive coordinator. At the 2019 Scouting Combine, he measured 6-foot-5 1/4 and 248 pounds with a 4.50 in the 40. That’s a great skill-set but the NFL production has been lacking.

As a fifth-year senior at Oregon in 2018, Hollins recorded 64 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for losses, five forced fumbles, one interception and six additional breakups. He was the only FBS player since 2000 with at least five sacks, five forced fumbles and an interception in the same season. In his final game wearing a Ducks helmet, he was selected Defensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game.

He’s just a freak of nature,” then-Ducks linebacker Troy Dye, now with the Vikings, said. “I mean, the dude is just super-athletic. He’s big, strong, physical, fast. He’s everything you want in an outside linebacker and then some. We’re really excited to have him on our side of the ball and we’re really excited for the year that he’s having.”

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Hollins endured quite a bit during his career – he missed the 2015 season due to injury, dealt with three head coaches and three defensive coordinators, and moved from linebacker to defensive end to linebacker.

“What doesn’t break you makes you better,” he said.

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