Time running out for Packers LB So’oto
By SARAH BARSHOP, ESPN Milwaukee
~GREEN BAY – After seeing limited action in the Green Bay Packers’ 27-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, Vic So’oto needs to impress his coaching staff in the Packers’ final preseason game against Kansas City.
He’s spent most of camp longing for an opportunity. Thursday night – about 24 hours before the roster must be pared from 75 players to 53 – he’ll get one.
“I think up until this point I haven’t had a lot of opportunities on defense, but it is what it is. You can’t control that, so this last game is for guys like me who are on the bubble and could go either way making the roster or not,” So’oto said after practice Sunday. “It’s huge for us.
“We’ll have a lot of opportunities and hopefully I’ll be able to capitalize on my opportunities when they come.”
So’oto recognizes the importance of this game because his performance in last year’s final two preseason games – in which he recorded 2.5 sacks, returned an interception for a touchdown and forced two fumbles – led directly to his spot on the final roster as a longshot undrafted free agent from Brigham Young.
This preseason, So’oto has recorded just two defensive tackles, one sack, and one assisted tackle on special teams.
“I only got nine plays (against the Bengals), so it’s tough to get into a groove there,” So’oto said Sunday. “For me, it’s really about making the most of my opportunities. Last year, I came in with the guy they drafted, (sixth-round pick) Ricky Elmore, and it kind of feels the same way.
“For me, I’m used to it. I can’t really change anything. You can only make the most of what you have.”
Coach Mike McCarthy noted that So’oto’s sack in the opener against the San Diego Chargers was promising, but that he needs to see more consistent play from the linebacker.
“He’s definitely flashed, and I don’t think it’s a matter of the big play or big sack,” McCarthy said. “It’s his overall play and contributions on special teams. Those are the goals he needs to reach.”
One of those goals was to spend more time in the weight room. Listed seven pounds lighter than last season, the 256-pound So’oto has put significant time into his training regimen this preseason in order to develop into a more all-around player.
“I changed the way I trained,” said So’oto, who spent part of the offseason training with his friend and fellow outside linebacker Clay Matthews in Southern California. “I played D-end and bounced around a lot in college, and playing outside linebacker in the NFL is totally different, so I have to train differently.”
In his second season, So’oto has had the benefit of being more comfortable in training camp, and has been able to focus more on playing.
“It doesn’t seem as brand new,” So’oto said. “I mean, there aren’t a lot of things that seem as brand new anymore. It’s been fun.”
“I feel more comfortable in the defense and playing naturally and being out there is becoming more second nature so it definitely feels better and more fun now.”
Even though he’s not a rookie anyone, So’oto is still treating this preseason as he did last year, and fighting as hard as he can to earn a roster spot.
“With the uncertainty of what could happen, you just have to go out there and make plays and when I get my opportunities I try to go in there and change momentum if we’re down,” So’oto said. “It’s definitely the same feeling as last year where you just have to go out and make plays.”
Like others who seem to be on the fine line between making the roster and being released, So’oto knows that one way to earn a spot on the team is to make an impression on special teams.
“Special teams are huge and we all know that. The young guys all know that, and there are a lot of older guys that made their name on special teams and played well enough to make their name on defense. The kind of example is Desmond Bishop. He played a lot on special teams his first two years and cracked the roster, so that’s kind of where I’m at.”
So’oto said that……. Full story here