During the offseason, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt wanted to make a bold prediction, then bit his tongue. But he said just enough of what he was thinking – that the Green Bay Packers cornerback corps had the potential to be one of his best groups, even after last year’s train wreck – to plant the seed in everyone’s minds.
Through two preseason games and three-plus weeks of training camp, it looks like Whitt has a chance to be right. While veteran Davon House will miss his third straight preseason game with a tender hamstring, he’s expected to be ready for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener against Seattle. Behind him, a crew of young cover men appears improved – from 2015 top picks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins; to LaDarius Gunter, a former undrafted free agent who was the team’s No. 1 corner at year’s end; to top rookie draft pick Kevin King; to little-known second-year man Josh Hawkins. A couple of undrafted rookies – Raysean Pringle and Lenzy Pipkins – have had their moments in camp, too.
Still, defensive coordinator Dom Capers is reluctant to get too excited after watching his unit finish 31st in the 32-team league in pass defense after No. 1 cornerback Sam Shields suffered what turned out to be a season-ending concussion in Week 1 and Randall and Rollins struggled with injuries and inconsistency. Another solid game from the group on Saturday night at Denver – particularly with Randall returning after missing last week’s game at Washington with a concussion – would surely help Capers’ confidence.
“Health is important there. You get Damarious back where he’ll be able to hopefully get good work Saturday night,” Capers explained. “Kevin King has come in, and he gives us another guy that we like his ability. Normally, the third preseason game kind of steps up a notch because the starters play more. So you get a little bit truer indication, I think.
“I mean, you’re never satisfied exactly with where you’re at. I think the preseason here you kind of see where if you lose a player or two, you have to be able to adjust (to playing) with the 1s. Because your depth is going to be critical once we get into the season. you have guys who can play two or three different positions.”