With three defensive backs injured during the final preseason game, and two injuries at safety entering it, the depth in the secondary has been shaken up. The whole roster got more confusing when two players were placed on I.R. (S Charlie Peprah and CB Pat Lee), and one of the preseason's stars was released (S Anthony Smith). And one new face was added in a trade.
The best news in all of this was that the starting lineup is the same. CB Charles Woodson and CB Al Harris will start, alongside S Atari Bigby and S Nick Collins. CB Tramon Williams could play as much as 60% of the time as the nickel back.
So meet the new face: CB Derrick Martin.
- He was a 6th round draft choice of Baltimore in 2006, and the Green Bay Packers acquired him in trade for OL Tony Moll. The Packers have had their eye on Martin since they scouted him in college at Wyoming.
- In his first three seasons, he played exclusively at cornerback, starting 3 games in 2007. He played in 4 games in 2008 before a shoulder injury ended his season.
- This preseason, he's been playing exclusively at safety. Now that he's in Green Bay, I expected he'd be playing some at cornerback again, but, according to Tom Pelissero, he spent his first practice following safeties coach Darren Perry around. So he's a safety.
- He projected as high as a 3rd round pick in 2006. But according NFL Draft Scout, as a cornerback, the best he can be is a nickel back, so the move to safety might be a good one.
- And he had some problems with a bowling pin and some marijuana back in 2008, but was never charged.
S Anthony Smith had a great preseason, there were even rumors he might unseat Bigby, but surprisingly he was released last weekend. CB Pat Lee was a 2nd round pick in 2008 and seemed certain to move up the depth chart in 2009, but a back injury kept him out most of training camp and a knee injury ended his season.
CB Will Blackmon. According to Tom Pelissero, he's still not dressed for practice. If he's healthy, he'll be the top reserve.
CB Brandon Underwood. They love those guys that can play multiple positions. Although he played safety during his final college season at Cincinnati, the 6th round pick has been playing exclusively at cornerback in the NFL. He's got some promise; he appears to be able to close on receivers with a good jump and his tall 6'1" frame. But he also plays with a lot of cushion and has gotten spun around by a double move on more than one occassion. He's not ready to play right now, but he's the next healthy cornerback currently on the depth chart.
S Aaron Rouse. According to Tom Pelissero, he was in practice on Monday. Just as in 2008; he remains the top backup at safety.
S Jarrett Bush. The former nickel back has been playing exclusively at safety this preseason. The team roster lists him as a cornerback/safety, but he'd only play cornerback in an emergency.
S Derrick Martin. He'll be a safety, so he seems like an odd addition because they need cornerback depth. Apparently the Packers just had a "thing" for him, so says GM Ted Thompson:
Q: Was the decision on Anthony Smith a performance-based one?
A: It was just a thing, we had an opportunity to get a player from Baltimore that kind of fit what we were looking for. A little bit of a corner, a little bit of a safety, special teams. It just came down to that.