Kevin King did a lot of new things in 2019. He played a career-high 15 regular-season games, nabbing a career-high five interceptions in the process. He recorded his first career forced fumble and sack. He went to the playoffs for the first time. It was a full, successful season, even if there were some mixed results at times.
And even before he hits the field in 2020, King has already done something new this season: he’s taken over the role of elder statesman in the Green Bay Packers’ cornerback group.
King is just 25, but it’s true: with Tramon Williams unsigned, King, along with Kabion Ento and Marc Antoine-Duquoy, is the oldest corner on the Packers roster.
What’s more, he’s also the longest-tenured defensive back on the Packers’ roster.
“There actually are no DBs here that were here my rookie year,” he told reporters via web conference Friday afternoon.
But even if he is only 25 and just entering his fourth year, King says he’s prepared to take on a more vocal role as a leader, even if he thinks his responsibilities in that role are relatively simple.
“Just knowing what to expect, help leading guys. I definitely feel that role coming along.”
King’s leadership responsibilities may be limited in part because the whole defense is prepared to take the next step together. The Packers return virtually all of their top defensive players this year, and King says he can see the unit’s cohesion is strong, even though they haven’t done any work on the field yet. As Mike Pettine heads into his third season as the Packers’ defensive coordinator, King says his teammates are eager to learn anything Pettine can throw at them.
“Guys are getting comfortable and are past the undergraduate level. We want to get to that 501 level, that graduate-level stuff,” he said.
A 2017 second-round pick, 2020 is King’s final season under contract with the Packers. But other than prioritizing taking care of his body (he gave a lengthy description of a protein shake he was drinking during his conversation with reporters), King isn’t changing his approach much in a contract year. He simply wants to focus on being the best player he can be on a down-by-down basis.
“Just eliminating big plays. That’s the thing,” he said. “You can play good, especially as a corner, all game, and then there’s that one play where you’re not focused or something. Just eliminating those things and being consistent.”