Packers.com is examining the Packers’ roster, position by position. In the seventh installment, we look at the defensive backs.
GREEN BAY—The simplest way to analyze the Packers secondary is to recognize two things.
First, there isn’t a stronger position on the roster than cornerback.
Second, following the recent release of Charles Woodson, there isn’t a younger position on the roster than safety.
The Packers feel they have four starting-caliber corners coming out of 2012. That was confirmed after the season by position coach Joe Whitt Jr., who said the starting jobs for 2013 would be open to competition amongst
Williams is the veteran of the bunch whose play improved following an injury-plagued 2011 but who has yet to return to being the playmaker of 2010. Williams had just two interceptions last season, both in Week 2, his lowest total since becoming a regular starter in 2008.
It should be noted, however, that Williams was frequently assigned to cover the opponent’s top target, and his work in the NFC North against Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Chicago’s Brandon Marshall went a long way toward the Packers going 4-0 against those rivals.
Shields bounced back from an uneven 2011 with a strong 2012 that showcased his improved tackling. He’s a restricted free agent whom the Packers almost certainly intend to keep with a high-tender offer, and he performed especially well following a six-week absence due to an ankle injury. Over the final six games (including two playoff contests), Shields intercepted four passes, returning one for an early TD in the divisional-round loss at San Francisco.
Shields could be considered a rising star, as is Hayward. A second-round draft pick, Hayward led the Packers and all NFL rookies with six interceptions. He also led Green Bay with 25 passes defensed in the regular season (one more than Williams), as he settled into the slot corner role in the nickel package the Packers employ more than any other on defense. Even if Hayward doesn’t become a starter on the outside in base, he’s a de facto starter in the slot in nickel.
House has only a half-season’s games under his belt through two years, due to injuries, but he remains an intriguing and promising prospect. He had surgery on his troublesome shoulder this offseason and hopes to show what he can do at full health. Playing with a shoulder harness last season, he had multiple pass break-ups five times over a span of six games while Shields was out.
At safety there are more questions for the Packers as they look for a full-time starter alongside
With practice-squad holdover
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