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ESPN's Darren Woodson Discusses Lacy, Concussions, and Packers' Defense

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The former NFL safety took questions about a variety of topics relating to the Packers in a media conference call earlier this week.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix warms up before a preseason game.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix warms up before a preseason game.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN analyst and 5-time Pro Bowl player Darren Woodson recently presented his new venture with FanPrint.com, an apparel company for sports fans that he co-founded as an investor. Woodson is now the Director of Business Development of the brand, which sends proceeds to former NFL players in need through the Athletes Assistance Fund.

On Tuesday, Woodson spoke on a conference call, taking questions about the NFL and discussing his new business venture. I had the chance to ask him a couple of questions about a position he may know a thing or two about (safety), along with Julius Peppers' switch to linebacker and whether the Packers should be concerned about Eddie Lacy after he suffered his second concussion.

The Q&A can be read below, and thanks to Darren and FanPrint for taking the time to talk with us.

APC: After being there and watching the game in Seattle, what are your early impressions of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and what do you think he needs to improve on?

I think Ha Ha is a guy that's very talented. It's still early on in his young career ... just had his first big time game and you know, what a way to open your rookie year playing against the defending Super Bowl champions ... and we saw some mistakes. He missed a tackle on that triple read-option pass. He was in a one-on-one situation with Lockett ... and those things happens to some veterans at times but, what you do see in Dix is that he's a guy who's tremendously aggressive.

I saw a play in watching film where he ran down Russell Wilson on the sideline and it was basically a one-on-one situation where he came up from depth and made a play. So you're seeing a guy that can make plays, but you're also seeing a young football player who's probably going to make mistakes, but the one thing I like about him ... is that he's aggressive. He's going to make mistakes, but he'll do them full speed and you can't teach that. You see a lot of young rookie guys that are making mistakes, and making them at half speed. This guy is maybe making mistakes coming full speed, he's aggressive with it, but there's a tremendous upside with this kid and we scouted him coming out of Alabama, and he hasn't dropped off. He hasn't dropped off in my opinion even though he missed a couple tackles in that game.

He really has a bright future in Green Bay and you're talking about some great safeties that have played in Green Bay. I played along probably the best one in LeRoy Butler early on in his career and I'm sure LeRoy's probably had his conversations with Clinton-Dix, but there has been some great players that have played that position at Green Bay.

APC: Julius Peppers has made the switch from defensive end to linebacker, besides the obvious skill of athleticism, what else does a guy at that age need in order to make the switch successful like guys such as John Abraham and Dwight Freeney were able to?

You have to drop in coverage. And Julius is a guy - and as great as an athlete that he's been in the past - who's always had his had in the dirt and just rushed the passer. Now there's going to be times when he's going to have to get out on the edges a little bit, get out in coverage a little bit more. The versatility aspect of it has increased on him all together. He's just not rushing the passer anymore so, if anybody can do it, Julius is a great athlete who can probably do it. It's late in his career but I still think he can make that adjustment. We saw this past week when they played the Seattle Seahawks. They got on the perimeter with Percy Harvin with that quick reverse sweep so, he's going to have to make some adjustments as far as getting on the perimeter, setting that edge while standing up, but at the same time I think he can make those adjustments. As the year goes on I think you will see a better Julius Peppers. Not only rushing the passer, but in pass drops also.

APC: Bryan Bulaga suffered a pretty bad injury while in Seattle; should the Packers sign a temporary veteran to come in and fill in for him, or should they remain pat with their backup Derek Sherrod?

That's a great question. I think that one thing that you always try to do is build depth within your organization, and we all know the key spots: quarterback and also that left tackle, right tackle spot protecting your quarterback and the cornerback position also. It's all about depth. I don't know if it's just that easy to go out there and find a guy on the street. If there's guy out there that's on the street that can come in and fill that position, well yeah, go get it. That's not going to be easy to do, and I think right now when you're looking at what they have, they're going to struggle with Derek Sherrod.

To defend what he's going through ... I know he gave up a big sack on fourth down, gave up the big sack against Michael Bennett for the safety, but you're asking a kid to come off the bench - who had a major injury himself - play that position, against the 12th man, against the defending Super Bowl champs, against Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. So you're asking a lot for him his first time and he's not even warmed up. He's coming straight off the bench into that fire so, I think you've got to give him some time. Of course, if you can find a veteran right now, try to get a veteran and bring him in and get him up to speed, but there's a lot more said than just getting a veteran off the couch or getting a guy from another team and getting him up to par in that offense and then sticking him out there. It's going to take some time.

APC: Eddie Lacy suffered his second concussion within the last calendar year in that game, should there be a level of concern for Mike McCarthy and Packers organization?

I do. Especially playing the position that he plays and the way he plays the position. He's a downfield runner and I remember last year when he got hit by (Brandon) Meriweather and had the first concussion and that was ugly. That wasn't good at all. As an organization, as a team, you do have to be cognizant of his history, and knowing his history of concussions. He had one last year, he had one this year, and taking your time with this young man because he's still a young man. He's in his second year and he plays a very violent position and I think he's one of the more violent runners in the game. So yeah, I think there's a lot of room for concern with Eddie Lacy right now and I think they need to take their time with him and let him get back to full health before they just throw him back out there. I know they need him, they want to stay balanced. He came in, and he was one of the big reasons why a lot people were picking them to go very far in the playoffs and possibly have a shot at the Super Bowl because they're going to be balanced with their offense with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball and Eddie Lacy ... but you do and it's not just about football games. It's about his life after football and he's still a young kid so, yeah, I think Mike McCarthy is really going to have to take a step back and take his time with Eddie Lacy.

APC: With that said, is there something Lacy should alter about his running style going forward to help him?

I really don't. Aron, I think when you look at the way he's played since college ... I just remember watching him coming in college and how he ran with that tenacity, I don't know what other way he can play. He's not a Darren Sproles guy, he's not going to beat you with quickness, he's a downhill runner that runs extremely well and has great feet between the tackles and likes to bring punishment. That's him, there's no other running style. You're not going to love Eddie Lacy if he's running out of bounds and you're not going to love Eddie Lacy if he's just running towards the sidelines. I don't think the Green Bay Packers would love him at all if he changed his style. They need him to run downhill the way he does. There's not much you can really change about him.

FanPrint has a licensing agreement with the NFLPA that send some of the website's funds to former NFL players to help benefit them directly. The site has an interesting variety of t-shirts, hoodies and long sleeve shirts for fans to purchase (you can buy an Aaron Rodgers one here), but also allows fans or artists themselves to showcase their design skills by submitting shirt ideas of their own. You can contact and send them your ideas by reading further information here.

"FanPrint is the first of its kind," Woodson explained. "it's an online store that sells products with custom designed graphics representing individual NFL players and teams. "

Thank you once again to Darren and the FanPrint staff. Make sure you all give their site a browse today and check out all of their new apparel.