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Cheese Curds, 12/30: Packers' young corners must step up in Sam Shields' absence

Though Green Bay's top two draft picks have played well so far, they are not yet fully ready to replace the team's top cornerback when he's hurt.

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers have gotten lucky this year at the cornerback position. It's either that or Ted Thompson has done a brilliant job with giving his coaching staff the right personnel to train up. Well, maybe it's a little of both.

One thing is for sure, though - the Packers look to have some great years ahead of them with the cornerback unit that they currently have, and that's thanks in part to Thompson's drafting and free agency decisions and Joe Whitt's tutelage.

Unfortunately, while the young players are talented, they're still raw and aren't fully ready yet to take on the role of a shut-down corner on a full-time basis. So when the group's veteran leader is sitting out, it's still a tall order to match them up against some of the NFL's best young receivers. Sam Shields' status for Sunday's NFC North title match is still unknown, and if he can't go then Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins will need to be at their best once again as they will be defending one of the league's hottest quarterbacks.

Green Bay Packers CB coach Joe Whitt works wonders with young corners - ESPN
It seems to me that Whitt is simultaneously appreciated appropriately for the job that he does, yet highly underrated. This year's efforts by the cornerbacks coach might be his best yet, training up a pair of rookies to take the place of two departed veterans.

Sam Shields sorely missed in Packers' secondary |
Whitt's efforts unfortunately still were not enough over the past few games to keep the opposing receivers contained, as Amari Cooper and Michael Floyd had big days without Shields on the field. Shields is clearly a critical part of this defense, and the unit's performance in his absence is obviously a notch down from its normal standard.

Packers turn attention to title game against Vikings |
Mike McCarthy is turning into's Vic Ketchman and falling back on the "players, not plays" theme. All season long the coaching staff has preached execution over scheme, so it's no surprise that the refrain is the same now.

Vikings' Teddy Bridgewater enters Packers game with hot hand |
Bridgewater has been one of the best QBs in the NFL over the past few games, with only Kirk Cousins holding a better passer rating in the last three weeks.

Rick Lovato signs two-year contract with Green Bay Packers |
That locks up the new long-snapper through the 2016 season. It could be a sign that Brett Goode's ACL tear is serious and that he is not likely to return to the field next year, or just that the team wants some competition next year in training camp.

Chip Kelly was fired and Twitter knew before Eagles players did -
Yikes. Some of the reactions from players on Twitter are pretty rough.