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Shemar Jean-Charles answering the call early in camp

Packers’ second-year cornerback nearly made the play of the day in two-minute drill

CB Shemar Jean-Charles
CB Shemar Jean-Charles

GREEN BAY – He had the same reaction any defensive back would. He figured he had an interception.

Saturday's practice officials thought otherwise, ruling Shemar Jean-Charles was juggling the ball as he exited the back of the end zone during the two-minute drill.

Regardless, it was an impressive play by the second-year cornerback who was taking Jaire Alexander's reps with the No. 1 defense against Aaron Rodgers & Co.

Hanging with Randall Cobb on a deep corner route, Jean-Charles had himself in perfect position for the pick and set off a momentary defensive celebration … until the back judge made that arms-out, palms-up bobbling motion.

"I think it was a secured catch," Jean-Charles said in the locker room after practice. "But, hey, the film will let us know. (Head Coach Matt LaFleur confirmed Monday morning the film showed a bobble and the practice officials' call was correct.)

"Either way, it just felt good to get my head around and be able to track the ball to make a play, especially in two-minute."

It's the type of play that helps a young player trying to climb the ladder get noticed. The 2021 fifth-round draft pick from Appalachian State worked as the fourth cornerback through much of the first week of training camp, behind Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes.

That spot was manned mostly by veteran free agent Keisean Nixon in the spring, but Nixon has yet to practice due to a groin injury that landed him on the non-football injury list (NFI).

Jean-Charles isn't reading anything special into his status at the moment, but the early opportunity is obvious. Reps with the ones are the best way to learn from the proven pros, and Jean-Charles is soaking up as much as he can.

"Like Coach always tells us, even if you're not out there with the ones, you've got to think you're a one," he said. "Your name could be called at any moment. I take that serious."

As he does his ongoing education at the nickel, or slot corner, which wasn't a frequent assignment for him in college. So far, he says the transition has been "smooth," and his smaller frame (5-10, 184) suits the spot.

His mentality is to play bigger, pointing to his head and saying, "I'm 200 pounds up here sometimes," and to always stay confident. The other mental piece to his game is in preparation, which he calls the most important lesson he learned from defensive backs coach Jerry Gray as a rookie.

"Coach OG, he'll tell us, 'Football's an open-book test. The offense is giving you keys on every play,'" Jean-Charles said. "If you can take small pieces from every play and just keep that in the back of your mind, especially playing on the inside, formation tells you a lot."

Getting one year under his belt has given Jean-Charles knowledge to build upon as he angles for more playing time in his second season.

During his rookie year, Jean-Charles played in 14 games, but rarely on defense, recording just two tackles. He posted six coverage tackles on special teams, where his biggest moment came in helping strip the ball from Rams punt returner J.J. Koski in Week 12.

Tight end Dominique Dafney was officially credited with the forced fumble, but Jean-Charles knows he had a hand in the play. It's the type of impact new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia has discussed with a lot of young players about providing on punts and kickoffs.

"We've been (talking) all summer on big plans that he has for me and a lot of the guys going into this year on special teams," Jean-Charles said. "I feel like it's going to be a big part of me being on this team."

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