DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24: Robert Francois #49 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with teammate Sam Shields #37 after intercepting Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions during the third quarter during the game at Ford Field on November 24, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Packers defeated the Lions 27-15. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
One day down, two to go at the Green Bay Packers' mandatory minicamp. We'll have a lot to talk about between now and the beginning to training camp, but the most interesting thing I've seen come out to this point today is a piece by Vic Ketchman over at Packers.com specifically focusing on the defensive backs, their progression and what the coaches are expecting from them.
What's interesting about the post, in particular, are the quotes from defensive coordinator Dom Capers and cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt. They talked a bit about competition for spots, what guys are working on, and who's improving. The best bit comes from Whitt, regarding the oft criticized Sam Shields.
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Said Capers, when asked about competition among the DBs: "We're going to have good competition out there. We'll have better competition on the defense since I've been here." This probably isn't hyperbole, especially considering the lack of depth at defensive back until ... well, this year, really. The team has been overly reliant on Charles Woodson and threw undrafted guys like Shields and Tramon Williams into the fire pretty quickly. If Davon House and Casey Hayward are NFL quality, it's almost inherently the most competitive group Capers has seen at CB.
Here's what Capers had to say when asked specifically about Shields and House: "They've gotten an awful lot of work. Both of them have made progress, gotten a better feel for man and zone concepts." When Capers wants to give a weaseling out kind of answer, he knows how to do it. He'll also occasionally sound a bit more enthusiastic than this. This is neither weaseling out of a question or glowing praise. More likely than not, Shields and House are doing fine, but aren't looking as good as the coaching staff knows they can.
And the award for quote of the day goes to Joe Whitt, responding to a question about Shields stagnating from 2010 to 2011: "Sam's problem is me. I did a poor job with Sam. It was some of the run-pass things. I'm not going to make any excuses. I did a poor job with him."
If Whitt knows there's a problem, he can probably correct it. Hopefully we see a much better Sam Shields in preseason.