It's finally here! Training camp has started and with it come changes on defense. Charles Woodson has been playing safety in the base defense in camp. I would have thought this was just a gimmick but he's also attending the safety position meetings. Now he's still playing the slot in the nickel and dime, so he'll still be playing CB most of the time. I love this change to the base defense though as it allows the team to keep Woodson roving the defense and also get a more athletic corner on the field in the base defense.
The big question though is who is that corner? Sam Shields seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. He had tackling issues all last year and it seems to have carried over into camp. Jarrett Bush started camp with the ones at CB opposite Tramon Williams. I'm suppressing a shudder. Bush has always been a great special teams player. It's where he earns his money and it's why I think he's an important part of the team. But he's struggled with his back to the ball on defense for a long time. He has improved over time, just not to the level that I'd like to see in a starting corner.
The Packers have spent 2 higher round picks on the position over the past two years, drafting Davon House in the 4th round last year and Casey Hayward in the 2nd this year. House is a very talented but raw corner. Hayward didn't put up the speed or explosion combine numbers of a pure athlete, but according to reports (thank you MJS) he's been the best CB in camp so far. A high school QB in Georgia, Hayward seems to be picking up the playbook quickly and many of the WRs are commenting about how instinctual he is at reading routes.
I don't think it's possible for the defense to regress this year. I've heard a lot of good things about a number of the other rookies in camp. Nick Perry making plays already from his OLB position rushing the passer. I also love hearing that he cut weight to be more explosive in coverage. Jerel Worthy seems to be doing well so far too, showing some fire on the D Line.
Can you believe it? We're less than 2 weeks away from exhibition football!