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Cornerbacks Weather Competition For Starting Position


An intense competition can bring out the best or worst in players. For the Packers cornerbacks, it has produced the former thus far into the season.

The Packers replaced Ahmad Carroll, the starting left cornerback during last Sunday's game, with Joey Thomas, and Carroll has responded positively to the demotion.

"A.C's taking it well," safety Earl Little said. "Both of them handled the situation well."

Carroll has concerned himself with trying to improve his production rather than worrying about his playing time.

"If I don't start another game this year and I get six interceptions, I'm happy," Carroll said. "I've just got to out there and make something happen."

Packers head coach Mike Sherman said Carroll will play the nickel cornerback position and cover the slot receiver. Although he will not start against the Cleveland Browns, Carroll will continue to see a lot of action.

"In our defense, nickelback is basically the starter," cornerback Jason Horton said.

Joey Thomas entered training camp as the starting left cornerback, but calf and hip injuries sidelined him for three weeks of practices.

However, once healthy, he showed why the coaching staff held him in such a high regard. He had two tackles and two passes defended against the Detroit Lions.

The 6-1, 190 cornerback could prove to be a natural fit for the Packers new defensive scheme, which demands their cornerbacks play physically and jam the receivers off the line of scrimmage.

"I've been a bump and run corner my whole life," Thomas said.

And one week after filling the nickel role, he will start against the Browns.

"I've definitely been waiting for this opportunity," Thomas said. "I am ready. I'm definitely ready."

Carroll committed three illegal use of hands penalties and one holding penalty last game, and those penalties ultimately led to his demotion.

"Coach [Sherman] made it clear the reason I'm not out there playing is because of the flags," Carroll said. "Coach still said I had a good game."

A former sprinter, who set the Georgia state-record in high school by running the 100-meter dash in 10.41 seconds, he has struggled with penalties since entering the league. Carroll racked up 11 last year.

He said the roster move could help his career by allowing him to focus on maintaining his aggressiveness while using better fundamentals.

'It's kind of a blessing you don't want to go out there playing on pins and needles," Carroll said. "Hopefully this will help me calm down and play."

With the ups and downs of the position changes, both cornerbacks have sought the counsel of Little, an eight-year veteran. Little has not only advised them on how to deal with losing a starting job but also answered questions about technique and scheme.

"I know what they're going through because I've been there before," Little said. "I just tell them to keep up the hard work because you never know ... You could be right back in there."

Carroll became concerned about losing his starting spot during the final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. The coaching staff pulled him after a pass interference penalty in the first quarter.

"They made it clear they were a little upset with me," Carroll said.

Having now lost that job, the second-year player has taken the demotion like a veteran.

"It don't matter who starts," Carroll said. "I just want to get out there and make plays and be comfortable."

Both players have remained even-keel despite a heated competition, which began in the offseason. Both have started and both have backed the other up.

"It's kind of a rollercoaster, but I try to concentrate on the positives and be optimistic and focus on playing my game and doing better," Thomas said. "When you look at this way, it kind of takes the edge off the peaks and valleys of this game."


Favre Watch:Brett Favre's entire family will visit him this weekend. "It's good release for them to come up," he said.

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