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Young secondary filling Woodson, Shields' void

Nov. 19, 2012
 

With Sam Shields (ankle) nearing a return and Charles Woodson (collarbone) also on his way back, the Packers could be regaining their depth in the secondary sooner than later.

Over the past month, however, the Packers have seen a number of their young secondary set up with both players on the mend.

Against Detroit, the Packers had four defensive backs — Casey Hayward, Davon House, Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings — combine for nine pass breakups despite all four being either rookie or second-year players.

Hayward, who now has five interceptions and 14 pass deflections this year, has been starting in Shields’ spot in the base defense and assumed Woodson’s role lining up inside the nickel and dime sub-packages.

When Shields or Woodson return, the way the young secondary has performed could dictate them still having significant roles on defense.

“Guys make plays, we’re going to try to find ways to get them on the field,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “To me, that’s one of the keys whatever personnel groups that you use.”

Given Detroit’s pass-oriented offense, the Packers ran strictly nickel and dime defense, which required House to play in all 72 defensive snaps en route to four tackles, one sack and a pass defensed.

The secondary could get tested again this Sunday against the Giants, who feature two legitimate receiving threats in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Crutz, but Capers believes they secondary should be up to the task, including House.

“I think he’s progressing,” Capers said. “The more these guys play, the more confidence you have you can put them in those situations. House, since he’s been back, he’s made progress every week.”

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Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.

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