Reshaped Oren Burks could help reshape Green Bay Packers defense

Green Bay Packers, Oren Burks (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Oren Burks (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

Oren Burks has reshaped his body, which could help reshape the Green Bay Packers defense.

Since being selected in the third round back in 2018, Oren Burks has yet to live up to his draft status. The Green Bay Packers‘ linebacker has endured unfortunate injuries in his first two seasons but appears poised to take on a much larger role after an offseason of training and recovery.

Burks, who entered the NFL as a “tweener”, has struggled to keep on weight due to injuries. Seen as a cross between a safety and a linebacker, many pundits believed Burks would need to gain weight to stick as an NFL starter. Because of multiple injuries, he hasn’t been able to maintain a larger frame.

Last preseason, Burks suffered a torn pectoral muscle which caused him to miss four games during the 2019 regular season. During the 2018 preseason, he dislocated his shoulder. “I’ve had some bad luck in preseason,” Burks stated in an interview with ESPN. “It was definitely tough just dealing with injuries in back to back years.”

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This offseason, Burks worked to rebuild his body in preparation for the 2020 season. He was listed at 233 pounds last season but was “much lighter” than his listed weight. In fact, Burks couldn’t even bench press 135 pounds in March due to complications from his torn pec. He has since worked his way back to benching 325 pounds.

Oren Burks could be a difference-maker in the middle of the Green Bay Packers defense.

Fast forward to Packers training camp and Burks now clocks in at over 240 pounds. Thanks to his personal trainer, Josh Cuthbert, Burks was able to reshape his body in just a few short months. Cuthbert has also trained Burks’ teammate Robert Tonyan and 49ers’ tight end George Kittle.

"“What he really wanted to do was pack on some muscle and some size but make sure he didn’t lose any of his athleticism,” Cuthbert told ESPN. “But if he put on some size, it would help his longevity. We put on 12 pounds and he didn’t lose any of his measurements from his combine.”"

The Packers could use another playmaker in the middle of the defense next to Christian Kirksey, the team’s offseason free-agent acquisition who was brought in to replace Blake Martinez. Last season, Green Bay had little depth behind Martinez largely due to the fact that Burks was playing hurt.

Because Burks has put on good weight, his body should be able to hold up more efficiently. He’s taken the first-team reps in the Packers’ base defense alongside Kirksey during the first few days of training camp.

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The Packers employed a dime defense (six defensive backs) 50 percent of the time last season, by far the most in the NFL. Burks could be the difference-maker the team needs in order to bring that number down. Entering his third year in the NFL, it’s time for Burks to show his true worth. It appears he’s up to the task.