GREEN BAY – When the season ended last winter, Rasul Douglas expressed his desire rather publicly to stay with the Packers.
He told Head Coach Matt LaFleur he'd like to stick around, and he told the media as well.
Internally, the veteran cornerback's strong feelings for Green Bay actually traced back to his early October arrival.
Having hopped around a few different organizations over the previous couple of years, he felt welcomed by his new Packers teammates. Then he held his own during his first game action – which became an extended audition – at Chicago in Week 6. Another week later, he was in the starting lineup for the first time at Lambeau Field vs. Washington.
"Honestly, my first home game here, I was thinking, I want to be here forever," Douglas said.
He made that comment following Tuesday's OTA workout in his first meeting with the media since signing a new multi-year contract a few days into free agency in March. Oddly enough, it took circumstances beyond his control to make the new deal possible, similar to his initial signing.
The Packers likely wouldn't have plucked Douglas off of Arizona's practice squad had Pro Bowl corner Jaire Alexander not seriously injured his shoulder in Week 4 vs. Pittsburgh.
And they probably couldn't have afforded to bring him back after a revelatory and career-changing dozen games had the trade of Davante Adams not freed up a significant chunk of salary cap space.
But the contexts are all in the past now, and Douglas is only looking forward – to joining forces with Alexander and second-year pro Eric Stokes to form one of the more dynamic cornerback trios in the league, and then seeing what their talents can do for the high hopes the Packers possess for their defense as a whole.
"You can't have too many corners in this league, I'm telling you," defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Jerry Gray said. "We've got guys who can play more than one position, and I think that's only going to help."
Douglas is primarily a boundary corner, but Gray didn't rule out him or 2021 first-round pick Stokes playing the slot this season, even though Alexander might on paper look best suited for the role. In short, there are no worries this early in the offseason as to who's lining up where. The important thing is to have the coverage talent to match up different ways.
Douglas maximized on his talent upon arriving in Green Bay with a re-dedication to film study. It's not that he didn't do it during his three seasons in Philadelphia and one in Carolina, but under Gray he learned how to do it.
Douglas said he'd meet with Gray at 5 a.m. for film sessions that taught him what he was missing when he'd try to handle it on his own before.
The Green Bay Packers held practice on Tuesday, May 31 at Ray Nitschke Field as organized team activities continue.
"It was kind of like watching a show you've watched 1,000 times, so it was getting boring," Douglas said of film study earlier in his career. "I was falling asleep, because I didn't really know what I was supposed to look at.
"Sometimes I caught myself looking like, oh that's Julio (Jones), and I'm watching him make catches, and I'm forgetting I'm supposed to be watching how he's running his routes."
Tuned in to the fullest, Douglas became a playmaker. His interception in the waning seconds to save a late-October win in Arizona was followed by pick-sixes in back-to-back games after Thanksgiving. Then he had another game-saver on Christmas vs. Cleveland, capping his first career two-INT game.
Over 12 contests with the Packers, Douglas recorded five interceptions, matching the total from the first 60 games of his career with the Eagles and Panthers.
He insists there's more to come while at the same time taking nothing for granted just because he has a new deal.
"It feels good, but I mean, nothing's ever … you know what I'm saying?" said Douglas, who ironically dropped a potential pick-six in Tuesday's OTA, eliciting regretful groans from his teammates. "A contract means a contract, but at any time, if you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing, they can let you go. You've just got to keep working."
That's the mentality his defensive mates have as well, coming off a superb playoff showing vs. San Francisco and now an offseason that saw both Douglas and inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell re-signed, while Alexander and outside linebacker Preston Smith were extended.
Though not every front-line player has been in attendance for all the voluntary OTAs thus far, the whole gang is expected next week for mandatory minicamp. Those three days will send the veterans into their summer break prior to training camp, when hype season will start winding down and the real season will begin cranking up.
"We're trying to be the best defense," Douglas said. "I think we've got the pieces, we're coming along, we're getting it, we're grinding.
"We've still got another month of going back home, getting our body right, get in the best shape we can get in. But we're going to try to make a run for it."