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Bigger, stronger Carrington Valentine continues to stand out

Packers cornerback met team’s challenge of developing his body this offseason


GREEN BAY – Once the NFL season is over, it's customary for the Packers to give each of their departing young players a thing or two to work on before reporting back for April's offseason program.

For Carrington Valentine, the assignment was quite simple.

"We challenged him to put on some weight after the regular season," said Head Coach Matt LaFleur following Tuesday's first minicamp practice.

Valentine got the message loud and clear. Working with longtime trainer Chris Vaughn at Aspirations Fitness Institution, the 22-year-old cornerback dialed in his diet, was relentless in the weight room and focused on doing everything he could to take another step in Year 2.

As the youngest player on Green Bay's roster in 2023, Valentine knew he still had room to grow physically. After playing in the 180s, Valentine returned this spring with a noticeably thicker and more chiseled physique.

Now hovering over the 200-pound mark, Valentine says he's felt a difference on the field this spring.

"I'm a guy who loves contact. Even when I was a lighter guy, I loved contact," Valentine said. "So, when I put my hands on receivers and I feel the difference in power and strength, it's really motivating and keeps my confidence going."

Valentine's rookie season gave him a solid foundation on which to build. The seventh-round pick from Kentucky stepped up to start 12 games at outside cornerback, registering 44 tackles, nine passes defensed and a fumble recovery.

It was a good debut, but Valentine was already thinking about the encore as soon as the year ended. Valentine took the notes Green Bay gave him and went back to Vaughn, his mentor and trainer dating back to high school.

It was actually Vaughn who first suggested the Cincinnati native make a switch from receiver to cornerback during his junior year at Archbishop Moeller (Ohio) High School.

Valentine went the extra mile to train with Vaughn, driving nearly two hours each day from his hometown in Cincinnati to Aspirations Fitness Institution in Louisville.

"That's my Day 1. Loyalty, to me, is a big thing," Valentine said. "I told him my goals and what we have to do to keep going with our goals and reach my goal, and where I want to be at. He took everything into account of what I said and added some things that he thought, and this is what it turned out to be."

The results have been noticeable, but more importantly, Valentine believes his already aggressive approach to playing cornerback fit well with the Packers' plans for him.

Asked about Valentine's growth this offseason, LaFleur raved about not only how the second-year cornerback changed his body but also his performance in practice.

"It's been outstanding. That's a guy that stands out, quite frankly," LaFleur said. "He came back, and he definitely looks bigger … and he's stronger and the guy loves football. He loves to compete and I'm excited for him. I think he's got a really bright future."

Valentine is in midst of a transition to new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, who recruited him on behalf of Ohio State prior to Valentine's commitment to Kentucky.

The two have enjoyed their brief time together in Green Bay, with Valentine praising his new DC for how effortlessly he's explained the "why" behind the philosophy of the new scheme.

Despite a change of direction, the competition remains fierce among the cornerbacks. So far, All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander, former first-round pick Eric Stokes and Keisean Nixon have been the most common starting trio at corner.

Still, Valentine has had opportunities to shine. For example, Alexander's excused absence from minicamp enabled Valentine to get more work with the No. 1 defense on Tuesday. He didn't waste it.

"I'm ready for it," said Valentine when asked about the competition. "I've never been handed anything in my life. I didn't want it handed to me now. I'm just going to keep going, keep grinding and wherever the chips may lie."

Valentine may be a few pounds heavier this spring, but he's still the supremely confident cornerback he was last season. Asked on Tuesday who exactly Carrington Valentine is, the joyful, but determined, corner offered an on-brand retort.

"He's a dawg, honesty," Valentine said. "I'm a competitor. I'm always going to strain. I'm always going talk a little, as well; just my personality. I don't really care who you are. I don't care if you're All-Pro, Hall of Famer. At the end of the day, you gotta beat me. That's who I am."