Of Secondary Concern
So far, the story of Packer training camp has been the secondary. Between Charles Woodson switching to a position that he'll play 25% of the time or less and the release of Charlie Peprah, there's been plenty to talk about.
Obviously, people are concerned about the defensive backs for legitimate reasons. The Packers had one of the worst pass defenses in history last year, so obviously any sign that things are looking up is going to be welcomed with open arms. If reporters are to be believed (spoiler alert: they're not), there's plenty of good news to be had in Green Bay. According to multiple articles from the Green Bay Press-Gazette, virtually every defensive back in camp "looks good," which is the sports reporter equivalent of saying a guy has arms and legs and knows how to use them.
So what should we know/think about/look at when it comes to the Packer defensive backs? Well, unfortunately until the preseason games start, there's not a lot we can do. But if you're a Packer fan who's concerned about what that part of the defense is going to look like this year (and that should include all Packer fans) here's what I'd suggest you do when the preseason games start.
- Look for the first guy off the bench. It's been well publicized so far that Charles Woodson is going to play safety in the base 3-4 defense. However, the Packers only played their base set about 25% of the time last year, so that means more defensive backs will almost always be on the field. As of right now, M.D. Jennings is supposedly coming in at safety when the Packers use extra defensive backs, moving Woodson to the slot corner position. If that should change, though, and other people start coming on instead, it could mean that bigger things are happening on the depth chart.
- Watch the starters. The most heated position battle right now seems to be for the #3 cornerback spot, or the "nickel" defensive back. But, with the complicated Woodson situation, the nickel corner could actually be considered a starter in the base, since Woodson would be a safety there. From the sounds of it, Jarrett Bush has finally come of age (after six agonizing seasons of mediocre (a generous description) football) and is taking over as the nickel man. Close behind him are former training camp darling Sam Shields and second year man Devon House. Rookie Casey Heyward has also apparently made a habit of intercepting Graham Harrell, so he probably can't be counted out either. My point is, when the starters come on the field, look who lines up across from Tramon Williams.
- Don't forget special teams. Jarrett Bush has stuck around this long partly because of his value as a special teams player, particularly on punt coverage. Anyone who wants to have similar longevity should make a point of getting noticed on more than just defense. If you want to get an inside track on guessing who's going to be on the final roster, look for guys who show up consistently in the kicking game.
That's all the advice I've got at this point. And now that I've talked about meaningful things, I'd just like to point out that we now live in a world where Jarrett Bush could be considered a legitimate starter for an NFL team. Just let that fester in your brain for a while.