Packers rookie LB Jones will make first NFL start with Kampman out

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Short-handed at outside linebacker, the Packers are turning to an untested rookie for their Sunday game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that Brad Jones would make his first NFL start.

"This is a big opportunity for him," McCarthy said. "He's had a good week's work, and I'm sure he's up to the challenge. I like what I've seen."

Jones will start in place of Aaron Kampman, who will miss his first game because of injury since October 2003. Kampman is recovering from a concussion he sustained during the Packers' loss at Tampa Bay last Sunday.

"As much as it hurts (to not play) -- I want to be there for this one -- this is probably the right thing to do," said Kampman, who didn't practice this week.

Brady Poppinga, a potential fill-in for Kampman, also won't play Sunday because of a quadriceps injury.

That leaves Jones, a seventh-round draft pick, to fill the void at left outside linebacker against the Cowboys' high-powered offense. Jeremy Thompson, another young player with no starting experience at linebacker, also was under consideration at the position.

Green Bay's coaches believe Jones is ready to handle a prominent role after a back injury stunted his development during the preseason. Jones has been a major contributor on special teams, making eight tackles in the first half of the season.

"We've seen some things out of him up to this point in time in terms of instincts," Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "I think he has some naturalness rushing the passer, I think he's got enough toughness, and we'll just have to see. He's going to get some opportunities."

Kampman said he would be on the sideline Sunday to provide in-game guidance to Jones.

Meanwhile, inside linebacker Brandon Chillar hasn't been ruled out from playing against the Cowboys. Chillar missed the last game because of a broken right hand, which required the insertion of nine pins and a plate in surgery last week.

Chillar was fitted with a big club-like cast and wore it for the first time as he practiced on a limited basis Friday.

"Playing football one-handed is definitely not fun," said Chillar, who's questionable for Sunday's game.

Copyright 2009 by the Associated Press

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