The idea that the Green Bay Packers’ defense isn’t itself
without cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris isn’t exactly a
startling revelation. Still, Saturday night’s preseason game in
Seattle was tough to watch at times.
The Packers won the game, 27-24, but the first-team defense was
missing several key players and it showed. Woodson didn’t play
because of nagging injuries, and Harris is recovering from last
year’s season-ending knee surgery.
Even with Woodson and Harris, the Packers will need more from
their backup cornerbacks.
”You’ve got to have two or three playmakers that can make plays
that change the course of a game,” defensive coordinator Dom
Capers said after the game. ”And then you have to have an awful
lot of good role players, and we’re going through that process
right now to figure out who’s going to be our best role players and
who’s going to be our best playmakers.”
Capers is taking an especially vanilla approach to preseason
play with the Packers missing key players such as Woodson, Harris,
A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews, Atari Bigby and Nick Barnett.
Still, Capers was hoping for a more consistent performance from
some of his backups. This Thursday’s preseason game against
Indianapolis will provide another chance.
”We had some guys that got a lot of snaps,” Capers said. ”We
didn’t play the pass as well early in the game as I would like to
have. So we’re going to have to take a look at it. There were some
things that I think, again, were real correctable.”
Going into training camp, the Packers were hoping for a
significant step forward from young cornerbacks Brandon Underwood
and Pat Lee.
Woodson, Harris and Tramon Williams are an impressive cornerback
trio. But given the pass-happy nature of the NFL and the
possibility of injuries testing the Packers’ depth at the position,
having three good corners isn’t necessarily enough for a team that
is embracing Super Bowl expectations – especially when their pass
rush is a question mark, too.
Green Bay proved vulnerable to multiple-receiver formations last
year, and Capers needs to know that he can trust Underwood or Lee
going into the Sept. 12 opener at Philadelphia.
”What we’ve got to see out of those guys is just progress every
week throughout the preseason,” Capers said recently. ”There’s no
question, right out of the gate against Philly, we’re going to see
great skill there with their receivers.”
Underwood already was on shaky footing with the Packers’ front
office, not to mention his teammates, on after an off-the-field
incident in the offseason. Two women told investigators Underwood
sexually assaulted them at a Lake Delton, Wis., condo on June
Police have said the women’s statements contain inconsistencies,
and said in a news release a few days after the incident that
”money was exchanged between the alleged suspect and the alleged
victims before the alleged assault.”
Police questioned six other Packers players staying at the condo
for a charity golf event but cleared them of any wrongdoing. A
Wisconsin prosecutor hasn’t announced publicly whether Underwood
will face formal charges.
Already under scrutiny, the second-year player got picked on by
the Seahawks on Saturday.
”He played a lot of plays,” Capers said. ”We’re going to have
to look. We played him at both left and right corner, so we’re
going to, again, see if there was any progress from last week to
Underwood acknowledged that his play needs to even out.
”The big word that I’m going to use is consistency,” he said.
”I’ve got to be more consistent. I’ve got to go out and make sure
I stay focused and do it every play, every play get in and do what
I’ve got to do. We made an adjustment for the corners at halftime,
to get up there when we’re in our man coverage, just to get up
there and play press and I honestly feel that it turned out a lot
better for us to get out and play everything with no errors.”