No rotation for a starting job on the Green Bay Packers’ roster has been more consistent through nearly a month of training camp as the safety spot opposite Morgan Burnett.
Like clockwork, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian have alternated on an almost daily basis at the position throughout the camp’s 17 practices, two games and one scrimmage.
In the Packers’ preseason opener two weeks ago, Jennings started in the secondary before McMillian received the call in Saturday’s 19-7 win over St. Louis.
After receiving the first-team reps in the Packers’ base 3-4 defense on Wednesday, it’s almost expected Jennings will reset the position again on Friday against Seattle.
Earlier this offseason, safeties coach Darren Perry presented both safeties with an edict for them to separate themselves, and while neither has done that up until this point, has appreciated how each safety has responded since returning for camp last month.
While some battles like the starting right-tackle competition and returner appear to be moving closer to a victor, Jennings and McMillian remain in a dead-heat, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in Perry’s mind.
“This thing will probably come right down to the end here as far as who ends up being that guy,” Perry said. “But both of them are aware of the situation and are aware that both of them are valuable members of this football team. It’s just a matter of who we start out with in our (3-4) Okie package.”
In 2012, the two safeties played an almost identical amount of defensive snaps with Jennings (586) only slightly edging McMillian (562). In two preseason games, McMillian has 57 defensive snaps compared to Jennings’ 46.
When Charles Woodson went down with his broken collarbone, Jennings started the next 10 games and finished the season with 52 tackles with two pass deflections and one interception with McMillian registering 27 tackles with five deflections and an interception of his own.
One reason why the Packers were able to get both players so many reps was due to the team utilizing McMillian as its dime cornerback in six defensive back sets while Jennings worked strictly in centerfield.
Although it’s easy to make the case the Packers’ cornerback room is as deep as any position on the roster, Perry and fellow secondary coach Joe Whitt haven’t ruled out keeping McMillian in that spot and staying status quo from 2012.
“Not at all. Not at all. They both bring a different style to our defense,” Perry said. “M.D. is ranging and he can go get the football. Not that J can’t. J is a little bit more of a thumper. He plays with a little lower leverage because he’s a little shorter and he gets up underneath people and as a result his hits are probably a little more impactful than M.D. Both of them are smart guys. I think they’re going to be big contributors to this defense.
“We’re not going to concern ourselves too much about who wins out because we know we have two good football players and if something were to happen we should be fine.”