While the Packers kinda-sorta-not-really defended Hawk's performance last year, Smith is a logical fan favorite after a promising rookie season. The sixth-round draft pick flashed when called upon and seems to deserve a longer look, like former fan favorite Desmond Bishop once did (Bishop now starts next to Hawk).
Paul Imig of FoxSportsWisconsin points out that Smith is unlikely to replace Hawk because they don't really play the same position. Even though they are both inside linebackers.
"You can say it's kind of minor, but it's kind of a big difference," Smith said. "It's still a middle linebacker, but one position (Hawk's) has more responsibility than the other. When it comes to A.J.'s spot, he's the signal-caller. He's the guy that runs the show. He's the quarterback of the whole thing. He gets guys lined up, ready to go and makes all the checks when things switch around."
Smith believes he's the No. 2 behind Bishop, while Robert Francois is Hawk's true backup. That makes it unlikely Hawk will be displaced as a starter.
"As far as I know, that's all I know," Smith said.
"He can play either one," Capers said. "He's smart enough, he can play either one. I think D.J. will be competing."
Smith's quotes throughout the article were deferential to Hawk, but Capers' words mean more. He's going to find a way to get the best players on the field.