So far during a week of training camp, one position has stood out head and shoulders above all others for the Green Bay Packers: the safeties.
For a group that was so maligned a few years ago — don’t think too hard about the Jerron McMillian/M.D. Jennings era — the Packers have turned it around in a few short years and now count that position as one of the biggest strengths on the team, and certainly one of the top units on the defense.
It all starts with the veteran of the group, Morgan Burnett, who is a candidate to get the rare third contract as a Packer. Burnett has gone from strong safety to free safety back to strong safety and eventually to playing the slot and a hybrid linebacker spot in his seven-year NFL career. In 2017, he appears set to play a major role in the box once again, and he’ll also likely be matching up with opposing tight ends in pass coverage.
Meanwhile, the Packers’ additions to the unit over the past two years are already impressing. Kentrell Brice’s emergence allows the team to use Burnett in myriad ways, while rookie Josh Jones appears to be ready to follow in Burnett’s footsteps, even before he has played a preseason down.
And then there’s the one member of the group who has made a Pro Bowl, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who is almost an afterthought right now as the steady presence in center field. This group should be giving Packers fans chills with excitement right now, and it will be exciting to see them take the field for the first time next Thursday evening in the Packers’ preseason opener.
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Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the vocal leader, Morgan Burnett carries a quiet intensity at all times, and the young duo of Kentrell Brice and Josh Jones bring the hammer. This group is fun to watch, even in practice.
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More than just fun to watch, however, the group is incredibly versatile. Burnett has seen work at inside linebacker even in the base 3-4 lately, and even though the Packers play nickel or dime on almost 90% of snaps, that could mean five DBs on the field at all times.
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Meanwhile, Burnett's competition on the other side of the ball is bringing out the best in him, as he and Bennett have been going toe-to-toe on seemingly every play early in camp. The two relish the chance to battle against one of the elite players at the opposite position.
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House was about the only cornerback who had any semblance of success against Julio Jones in 2014, when the Falcons wideout went bonkers at Lambeau Field, so it would make sense for him to match up with Jones once again in week two.
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