Fourth-year veteran worked with Joe Barry in Los AngelesWes Hodkiewicz
GREEN BAY - The Packers made their third waiver claim of the 2022 regular season to acquire linebacker Justin Hollins on Thursday.
The fourth-year veteran has 97 career tackles, 11 quarterback hits and seven sacks in 49 regular-season games (seven starts). Five of those starts came this season for the Rams.
"I'm just viewing it as an opportunity, a great opportunity," said Hollins on Thursday. "Coming in, I'm preparing to help any way I possibly can and just try to be that light."
Here are five things to know about the new Packers linebacker.
1. Hollins worked with Joe Barry in Los Angeles.
The 6-foot-5, 248-pound linebacker will be reuniting with the Packers' defensive coordinator after the two worked together with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020. While Barry wasn't Hollins' direct position coach, he served as the Rams' associate head coach/linebackers coach for four seasons before his move to Green Bay in 2021. Hollins enjoyed his most productive season that year in LA, registering 28 tackles, five quarterback hits, three sacks and a forced fumble. "Looking over it, scheming over it, there's a lot of carry over," said Hollins. "Different terminology here and there. Of course, he's going to put his own spin on things. So, I just gotta adapt to that and have a good handle on that. It shouldn't be hard."
2. He broke into the NFL with Vic Fangio's defense.
As a fifth-round pick by Denver in 2019, Hollins had a chance to learn from two of the game's brightest defensive minds in then-Broncos head coach Vic Fangio and outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley. Hollins posted 21 tackles and a sack as a rookie. Prior to the start of the 2020 season, Hollins was claimed off waivers by the Rams and reunited with Staley, who'd just been named LA's new defensive coordinator. Staley was hired the following year as the Chargers' new head coach but Hollins remained with the Rams until his release this past weekend. He finished with 76 tackles, nine QB hits and six sacks in 34 games (seven starts) in LA. Hollins captured a Super Bowl ring in February, recording a tackle on 27 snaps (16 special teams, 11 defense) in LA's 23-20 triumph over Cincinnati.
3. Hollins helps fill a need for Green Bay on defense and possibly special teams.
The Packers have been in the market for an edge rusher since losing Rashan Gary to a season-ending knee injury in Detroit earlier this month. The Packers have carried just three outside linebackers (Preston Smith, Kingsley Enagbare and Jonathan Garvin) on their 53-man roster since Gary's injury. La'Darius Hamilton was elevated from the practice squad against both Dallas and Tennessee. Following the 2019 NFL Draft, Hollins and Gary actually worked out a little bit together between organized team activities and training camp. In addition to his work on defense, Hollins has played 375 career snaps on special teams.
4. He led the country in forced fumbles during his senior year at Oregon.
Hollins was a three-year starting outside linebacker at the University of Oregon, ending his final collegiate campaign as the nation's leader in forced fumbles with five. His eight forced fumbles from 2017-18 were the most in the nation during that span. In finishing with a team-best 6½ sacks and an interception, Hollins was one of just 19 FBS players since 2000 with at least five sacks, five forced fumbles and an interception in the same season.
5. Hollins was high school teammates with Myles Garrett.
A native of Arlington, Texas, Hollins first played at Grace Preparatory Academy before transferring to Martin High School for his senior year. There, he played on the same defensive line as Garrett, the future No. 1 overall pick by Cleveland in 2017. A three-star prospect, Hollins registered 59 tackles (49 solo), four sacks, two fumble recoveries and one blocked punt during his season at Martin.