After 13 training camp practices and one preseason game, Packers first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had done little to stand out. While fellow safety Sean Richardson has had three interceptions in practice, Clinton-Dix had zero. While Micah Hyde made his conversion to safety look seamless, Clinton-Dix looked like it could be a while before he was ready to contribute significant snaps in a regular-season setting.
Saturday’s preseason game in St. Louis might have been a turning point for Clinton-Dix. He picked up a sack and played well in his 34 snaps against the Rams. Then, the former Alabama star showed up at Monday’s practice and had his best performance yet.
Clinton-Dix had two interceptions Monday. The first came on a pass from undrafted rookie quarterback Chase Rettig to receiver Chris Harper. It was an impressive play by Clinton-Dix, but considering the circumstances, alone it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. But a very big moment soon followed when he intercepted Aaron Rodgers. With Rodgers and the offense running a two-minute drill, Clinton-Dix took advantage of a floating ball that bounced off the hands of James Starks and into the air.
"I thought it was great to actually touch the ball again after a while," Clinton-Dix said. "So that felt good."
Clinton-Dix played a big role in the failure of Green Bay’s two-minute offense with his interception. Rodgers and the starters began with a short completion to Jake Stoneburner, but on the next play, the pass intended for Starks was picked off. That brought the drive to an abrupt end.
In the back-and-forth rotation of the No. 2 quarterback spot, it was Matt Flynn’s turn to run with the second-string offense. Though he led a longer drive than Rodgers did, the end result was the same. Having gotten into the red zone, Flynn’s pass to Justin Perillo was not thrown well and bounced off the hands of the undrafted rookie tight end and into the waiting arms of safety Chris Banjo.
It’s a credit to the Packers safeties that a group that finished last season with no interceptions had two in a matter of a few minutes. But Green Bay’s offense is certainly looking for better results than two turnovers.
– This was the Packers’ first indoor practice of training camp. With the amount of rain that had fallen Monday morning, the team moved what was scheduled to be an outdoor practice into the Don Hutson Center.
– Green Bay’s starting offense was the same group of 11 players from Saturday’s game. Richard Rodgers was at tight end, the wide receivers were Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin and Randall Cobb, JC Tretter was the center and Eddie Lacy was in the backfield.
– The punt returners were Cobb, Hyde and Tramon Williams.
– Jeff Janis has been trending quickly in the positive direction, and while he had an otherwise fine practice, he may have upset his starting quarterback. Rodgers fired a deep pass down the right sideline to Janis with Demetri Goodson in coverage, but it wasn’t very close to being completed. The way that Rodgers motioned to Janis signaled there may have been miscommunication, as wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett also chimed in to the seventh-round pick rookie.
– With Brandon Bostick injured, Stoneburner got a lot of work with the starting offense. Stoneburner made a good impression, too, catching several passes, including one when he was lined up in the slot.
– Other than Flynn’s two-minute-offense interception, he and Scott Tolzien both had a good practice. Flynn threw a very nice pass on a corner route that traveled 30 yards in the air before landing right into the arms of Myles White. Not to be outdone, Tolzien threw a perfect deep pass to Perillo that dropped directly over the outside shoulder of the rookie tight end for a big completion.
– Banjo’s interception wasn’t his only good play of the day. He also closed fast on a short pass from Flynn to wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard and knocked the ball away at the last second.
– Hyde had a nice play in coverage, too. The converted safety got in front of a pass from Tolzien to Stoneburner and batted it away.
– Running back Michael Hill didn’t help his case to make the 53-man roster with a dropped pass from Flynn.
– Datone Jones got into the backfield and used both hands to swat down a Rodgers pass.
– In the final practice period (a 7-on-7 drill), Boykin had a highlight-reel touchdown catch from Flynn. Boykin had to fully extend himself down the left sideline in order to haul in the pass, which he successfully did for the score.