July 28, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive back Sean Richardson (28) rides a bicycle to training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay, WI. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
I have to admit that I thought this was going to be a bigger battle than it has turned out. There are good reasons for this, the cutting of Charlie Peprah and a bigger move than expected for Charles Woodson (at least a bigger move than I was expecting) probably being the foremost reasons. These two things together, plus a strong camp from M.D. Jennings, and turned this into a pretty straight forward affair at the moment.
Despite the calm appearance though the battle does rage on. Coach McCarthy pointed out yesterday that no job has been won this early in camp, and so things are bound to change. I also want to note that this is going to look a bit different format wise from the previous update, and any more to come, because of my opinion of what this battle has turned into. Right now the battle for "starting" safety is going to be a battle for two separate positions. The first is going to be the starting safety spot opposite Morgan Burnett in the base defense. The other is going to be the starting safety spot opposite Burnett in the nickel defense. I'm going to call both of these starting positions because of how often the Packers want to play the nickel and the rhetoric you hear about the desire to play more base this year. Sure you might end up with 12 or 13 "starters" as a result, but it's like the third WR for the offense, really that guy gets starter minutes which is the important thing anyways.
"Starting" Safety in the base defense:
Who is locked in: Charles Woodson. There is no one else here folks. The move is real and it's happening. You could call it a "Corner Okie" as their base if you want, but a rose by any other name...blah blah blah. When the starters are out in their base Woodson is back at safety and in a traditional safety role.
"Starting" Safety in the nickel defense:
Who has the edge for this starting spot: M.D. Jennings. Jennings has most of the work here in this position with the ones. He has had a pretty good camp thus far and seems to have all the tools necessary in order to be a solid starter at the NFL level at the very least. He could probably use a bit more seasoning, but that's what the preseason is for after all.
Who is not going down without a fight: Jerron McMillian. After going to training camp and taking notes and such the rule of thumb I would recommend when you read the tweets coming out of camp is that no news is good news more than not. There are lots of guys who are doing a good job consistently, but don't quite do enough where it warrants a notation or quick report via twitter. McMillian is one of those guys. He typically has pretty good coverage, lots of physical tools, and not afraid to make contact. He's also not at the point where he is making interceptions or forcing fumbles on regular occasion as well. He has put together a strong camp and can unseat Jennings with a couple strong preseason performances though.
The diamond in the rough: Sean Richardson. This might be the guy I get asked about most. He's an interesting project at the moment. Like McMillian, he has the tools necessary to be a good player in this league. He can cover and hit as well as can be expected of an undrafted rookie. That said, he is probably not quite as good as Levine is right now, and that's who he is competing with for the last safety spot. I think a year or so on the PS will do a world of good for him and hopefully the Packers can stash him there this year.