With continued health, Kevin King 'right there' among top corners

Packers’ 2019 leader in INTs itching to get back on the field

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CB Kevin King

GREEN BAY – If Jaire Alexander gets the label of the Packers' No. 1 cornerback, with Kevin King the No. 2, that's fine with King.

It doesn't mean the fourth-year pro looks at it that way, though.

"When you're out there on that field, it's two No. 1's," King said in a media session Friday, the day before the Packers hold their first practice of training camp. "It's going to be hard to go to the left side, it's going to be hard to go to the right side. The film is going to speak for itself, for sure.

"Ja has established himself as one of the elite corners in this league and I'm right there, too. One more healthy season and I'm going to establish myself as well."

Health was King's biggest asset in 2019 after two injury-filled years to begin his career. He played just 15 of a possible 32 games in the 2017-18 seasons, but he played 17 of 18 last season, including playoffs.

Weekly availability allowed King to showcase why the Packers spent a high second-round draft pick on him coming out of Washington three years ago.

He more than doubled his career total of passes defensed coming into 2019 with 18, second on the team to Alexander's 23, plus three more in the postseason. He also led the defense with five interceptions – two of them important fourth-quarter picks in the end zone to preserve home wins vs. Minnesota and Oakland – and he had opportunities for more that he couldn't quite haul in.

King isn't lamenting any of his missed chances, saying "that was God's plan for me to have five," but he is intently focused on staying healthy again as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

"It was definitely good just for me to finish a season, and playing most of the games," he said. "It felt good being out there. Now we've just got to be consistent with it."

Another goal tied to consistency is cutting down on explosive plays allowed. Every corner in the league is going to get beat at times, but limiting the damage when that occurs helps any defense in the long run.

Momentary lapses can mar an otherwise solid performance, and King is out to remove those from the film.

"Eliminating big plays, that's the thing," he said. "Especially as a corner, you can play good all game, and then (have) kind of just that one play where you maybe weren't focused."

King's fourth season will be his third in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's system. It's also the third with Pettine for Alexander, and the second for starting safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, as well as for projected nickel corner Chandon Sullivan.

King anticipates the continuity the front-line secondary will keep improving, even with all the limitations this past offseason and during the start of camp.

"Everybody's jelling," King said. "With 'Sav' and 'Smash' (Amos) back there, they lead the charge and command the back end as well as any team I've been on.

Take a look at photos of Packers CB Kevin King from the 2019 season.

"We really want to take that next step as a defense. Guys are getting comfortable and are past that undergraduate level and want to take it to those 501, those graduate-level courses. Just really get into the intricacies of the defense and the small details and just go out there and playing free, not as much thinking going on."

That process starts on the field Saturday. That's a big, and very welcome, change of pace right now.

"There's only so many sprints and stuff you can do, we've been doing that for a long time – so ready to go out there and just play football," King said. "That's what we do, we're football players."

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