Kevin King's return comes at good time for Packers' secondary

Fifth-year cornerback allowed just three catches for 21 yards in Kansas City

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CB Kevin King

GREEN BAY – Kevin King's return to the lineup couldn't have come at a better time for the Packers' secondary.

The fifth-year cornerback was cleared to play on Sunday against Kansas City after missing three games with the back/shoulder injuries he suffered last month in Cincinnati.

King responded with one of his best games in a Packers uniform, conceding just three catches on six targets for 21 yards in the 13-7 loss to the Chiefs, according to Pro Football Focus.

The defense needed him, too. Already playing without All-Pro Jaire Alexander (shoulder), the Packers also lost rookie first-round pick Eric Stokes to a knee injury in pregame warmups.

Green Bay was left with just four active cornerbacks in Kansas City, with rookie fifth-rounder Shemar Jean-Charles backing up King, Rasul Douglas and nickel cornerback Chandon Sullivan.

"I felt pretty good out there getting back into things," said King, who played all 65 defensive snaps. "We'll watch the film and clean things up and just see how we can be even more dominant. It was a good performance but we didn't do what we needed to do to get the job done."

Despite the short bench, the Packers' secondary still held former MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes to just 166 passing yards and the lowest yards per passing attempt (4.49) of his 55-game NFL career.

King played fast and physical in his return. In addition to locking down the perimeter, King led the secondary with seven tackles in Kansas City.

Of course, there was one play King would like back, a near-interception on a pass intended for Tyreek Hill with 15 seconds left in the first half, but it otherwise was a solid performance for the longest-tenured defensive back on the roster.

"I thought Kevin King covered really well," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "I certainly (would have) loved for him to finish the one mistake Mahomes made in terms of throwing it to him. But I thought he was physical. I thought he played outstanding. I thought everybody out there played as good as you'd ever want them to play."

The cornerback position is perhaps the best example of the Packers' defensive adaptability this season. In addition to Alexander being absent for the past five games, the Packers also lost King due to a concussion against San Francisco and Pittsburgh in Weeks 3-4.

The 6-foot-3 cornerback returned in Cincinnati but was forced out of the game after 42 plays due to an AC joint injury. The thought was King injured the shoulder when Tyler Boyd tried to hurdle his tackle in the fourth quarter.

However, the injury actually occurred less than two minutes into the second half on the play Adrian Amos intercepted Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. After the game, LaFleur commended King for playing through the injury.

"He was playing a lot of that game with basically one arm," said LaFleur after the game. "I thought he competed well and was playing really, really well. I thought he triggered and was physical when people caught balls."

Despite missing Alexander and King for a combined 10 games, Green Bay still ranks seventh in passing and tied for eighth with nine interceptions. One reason for that success has been the addition of Douglas, who has played a big role on defense since the Packers signed him off Arizona's practice squad last month.

The hope is the best is yet to come for the secondary now that King is back in the lineup and Stokes' knee injury doesn't appear to be long-term concern, according to LaFleur.

The Packers remain optimistic Alexander could play again this season, as well, after injuring his shoulder on a tackle of Pittsburgh running back Najee Harris during the Packers' 27-17 win over Pittsburgh on Oct. 3.

"The sky's the limit, man," King said. "I think we've got all the parts. We're just about getting better, just keep on getting better, regardless of it's a really good performance or a poor performance where we need to do a little better.

"We just want to keep on clicking, doing whatever we can to keep on getting better so that, come playoff time, we'll really be locked in."

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