GREEN BAY – Keisean Nixon has been a revelation as a return man for the Packers, but he's proving to be a solid, reliable nickel cornerback on defense, too.
For as aggressive and full-throttle as Nixon plays on special teams, his work on defense shows a steady, under-control presence, with good anticipation and reactions, that serves the Packers well. Here's a sampling from the Rams game.
Play No. 1: Second-and-9 from the LA 48, first quarter, 11:42 left
Result: Incomplete pass
On the opening drive of the game, Nixon holds his ground on the back side as the Rams run play-action, and he's all over TE Tyler Higbee (89) on the leak out. But he also reacts well as QB Baker Mayfield tries the inside throw to WR Ben Skowronek (18), and he would've been there for the quick tackle had the pass been completed.
Play No. 2: First-and-10 from the LA 26, first quarter, 4:20 left
Result: 1-yard sack by LB Kingsley Enagbare
On the first play of the Rams' second drive, it would have been easy for Nixon to get overanxious on this play and go after Mayfield as he steps up in the pocket. But he sticks to his job, which is to be there for the checkdown throw in the middle to RB Cam Akers (3). He takes away the easiest outlet, and Enagbare eventually gets to Mayfield.
Play No. 3: Second-and-14 from the Green Bay 22, second quarter, 11:32 left
Result: 7-yard completion to Higbee
Nothing fancy here in a long-yardage situation, just staying aware on a zone drop against the bootleg, reading the QB's eyes – which keeps him squarely in the passing lane between Mayfield and WR Van Jefferson (12) – and then reacting to Higbee releasing in pass protection, making a sure tackle and keeping the Rams in third-and-long. A stop on the next play forces a field goal.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the LA 35, second quarter, 4:21 left
Result: 3-yard completion to Skowronek
How many times is it said defenders need their teammates to clean up missed tackles? Well, look who's in the right spot when Enagbare fails to get Skowronek down on the first try. It's Nixon, and it's still a minimal gain.
Play No. 5: Second-and-10 from the Green Bay 37, second quarter, 1:02 left
Result: Incomplete pass
Again, nothing profound here, just solid fundamental football from Nixon, as he follows Jefferson on the slot route, knows exactly where his deep help is, and turns his head to the QB as soon as Jefferson makes his break. Mayfield has no choice but to throw the shorter route, it's no good and third-and-long. The Packers force another field goal.
Play No. 6: Third-and-16 from the Green Bay 47, fourth quarter, 9:17 left
Result: 1-yard scramble by Mayfield
On what turns out to be the Rams' final offensive play, Nixon shows how his speed holds up in coverage on deep routes, too, as WR Tutu Atwell (15) runs a straight go route from the slot, trying to split the safeties. Nixon is with him all the way. Mayfield's defeated flip of the ball to the official after his meager scramble sums up his night.
Bonus play: Second-and-5 from the LA 37, second quarter, 15:00 left
Result: 7-yard run by Akers
Nixon isn't really involved in this play, as he gets blocked, and the Packers surrender the first down. So why include it? Because there's something to be said for not taking kindly to getting blocked and sending a message you'll be no easy mark.