Packers rookie Rollins learning quickly at cornerback
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Whatever Quinten Rollins lacks in actual on-field experience at the cornerback position, the Green Bay Packers’ second-round pick makes up for with his personality.
Rollins played four years of basketball at Miami of Ohio before going out for football with his final year of eligibility — and was the Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year.
Still, one would have thought Rollins’ transition to the NFL game with such limited football experience beyond his high school days would be more difficult than he has made it look.
On Thursday night in the preseason opener at New England, he broke up a pair of passes — including a potential touchdown — and had a hard hit on running back James White that caused another incompletion.
With the Packers playing without cornerback Damarious Randall, the team’s first-round pick who sat out the game with a groin injury, it was something of a coming-out party for Rollins.
"He had a nice night," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Saturday before practice. "He did a lot of good things, particularly getting his hands on the ball. I’m sure when you talk to him he’s going to be disappointed he didn’t have those two interceptions. But I thought he played very well, played with a lot of confidence.
"He was definitely poised — and that’s one thing you always look for in your rookies the first time they get out there."
Poise is actually a key component of Rollins’ game, and given the position he plays, that’s important. In a pass-happy league, even the top cover men lose their one-on-one battles, and the better ones move on quickly to the next play.
"I played basketball. That aspect helps me. I was a point guard. You can’t dwell on one play. You have to have a next-play mentality," Rollins said Saturday. "That’s just kind of my nature. I’m on to the next play. The next play is going to be coming at you, so you have to get ready for that one."
That approach was on display Saturday afternoon, as the Packers returned to practice following their 22-11 victory over the Patriots. As good as Rollins was in that game, he was beaten by rookie wide receiver Larry Pinkard on back-to-back plays during a competitive 2-minute drill at the end of practice — a 57-yarder from Brett Hundley and then an 8-yard touchdown.
"I definitely was not pleased with giving up those, especially not in 2-minute," Rollins said. "(But) I feel like my personality goes right with the position. I’ve just never been a real big guy on, `Oh, I made one play, let’s get excited.’ That’s your job. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Just play the game like it’s supposed to be played and let the rest of it take care of itself.
"It’s cornerback. You’re not going to be perfect every play. That’s what you strive for, you always strive for perfection, but that’s a far-fetched idea."
NOTES: Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari did not practice because of what a club spokesman said was a knee injury. Given that Bakhtiari was at practice, it’s likely not a severe injury. … The Packers practiced in shells instead of pads Saturday, in part because it was the hottest day of camp with the heat index in the 90s. .. McCarthy called film of the team’s victory over the Patriots "great teaching tape." … McCarthy said wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, who suffered a concussion on the first day of camp on July 30, still has not passed all the required tests and won’t practice until he does.
- Damarious Randall
- David Bakhtiari
- FOX Sports Wisconsin
- Green Bay Packers
- Jared Abbrederis
- Larry Pinkard
- Quinten Rollins