The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl three years ago even though opponents sometimes took advantage of speed and athletic deficiencies evident in the play of cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Charlie Peprah. By adding key players in 2010 '11 and '12 the Packers now have outstanding speed across their secondary. No longer must they fear matching up against spread formations. But Woodson an all-time great and the resourceful Peprah also brought elements of toughness and moxie that their successors didn't exhibit often enough last season. Tramon Williams is the only top cornerback older than 25 and the three safeties atop the depth chart are 24. This secondary ranks among the swiftest in the National Football League. Now it's time for the young players to develop the esprit de corps that the finest groups possess. "I think we're talented" said Darren Perry the safeties coach since 2009. "With greatness comes consistency. "We had our moments last year where we were pretty good. But the ultimate measure is doing it week in and week out." Questions abound in the back end for a defense that improved from 32nd to seventh in opponents' passing average but also took the ball away just 23 times the Packers' lowest total since the 4-12 season of 2005. At 30 does Williams have another solid year in him let alone a superlative season like 2010? Will Sam Shields improve as he did last year or fall back into his skittish ways of 2011? Rock-solid Casey Hayward would seem immune to the sophomore jinx but the Packers will be asking much more from the talented Davon House. Is he confident and tough enough to come through? The Packers could have gone another year without paying safety Morgan Burnett and perhaps used a portion of his $24.75 million in "new money" from last week on an unrestricted veteran such as Ed Reed Michael Huff Glover Quin Patrick Chung or Kenny Phillips. In March those five players all left teams for starting jobs elsewhere with modest contracts averaging between $2 million and $5 million. Instead general manager Ted Thompson handed the mantle of leadership and responsibility to Burnett who generally has been effective but seldom overwhelming as the successor to Nick Collins in center field.
Time for Packers defensive backs to turn a corner
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Jul 24