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Packers keep options open with House, secondary

Sep. 16, 2013
 

Davon House wasn’t given an explanation as to why he saw 26 snaps on defense in the Green Bay Packers’ 38-20 win over Washington on Sunday nor did he ask for one.

Could it have been because there were only seven defensive backs active with Morgan Burnett, Casey Hayward and Jarrett Bush all down with hamstring injuries?

Did it have something to do with how he played in the first half spelling starting cornerback Sam Shields, who briefly exited with a cramp?

Or has the third-year cornerback played himself back into a significant role on defense after a shoulder injury derailed a promising start to last season and a bout with food poisoning slowed his start to this year’s camp?

It’s one of many questions surrounding the Packers as they prepare for Sunday’s trip to Cincinnati, the team’s final game before being among the NFL’s first squads on bye week.

What is tangible is that House had two tackles and was responsible for the Packers’ only sack Robert Griffin III on Sunday and played well after the defense switched to a new-look nickel package midway through the second half with Tramon Williams working inside with House and Shields on the perimeter.

“We like the way House played from the outside with Tramon, House and Shields out there we feel pretty good about that coverage unit,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “I think the way he was playing was good. Not to mention he had the sack when he came in. He had a couple passes defensed. We’re always looking to find our best combination of people on the field. We’ll have to see in practice this week how that thing goes.”

At first glance, it would appear House’s rise coincided with Micah Hyde falling out of the lineup, but Capers insists that wasn’t the case even though the rookie cornerback remained on the sideline with House in.

With Hayward out indefinitely with an aggravated hamstring injury and Burnett still uncertain to play against the Bengals, the Packers used the final 20 minutes of Sunday’s game as a trial-and-error look at the secondary.

Although it was Williams’ first time playing the slot in a game since he guessed the 2009 season, he has knowledge of the scheme. Capers cautioned he’s a bit apprehensive about sending the 30-year-old cornerback with a history of shoulder problems on corner blitzes, but he’s not adverse to it, either.

The Packers took a similar approach with Charles Woodson in the past before Hayward blossomed into a defensive rookie of the year candidate with six interceptions out of that spot a year ago.

“With our injury situation, Tramon is the most veteran guy. He’s a smart guy,” Capers said. “Your initial plan is Morgan is back at safety and Jerron (McMillian) is up at the dime. Micah is going to have to know both nickel and dime. That gives us two deep at the nickel with Micah and Tramon. It gives us a two deep at the dime with Jerron and Micah. … I think you have to prepare for all those scenarios.”

Could one of those scenarios lead to House being on the field more against the Bengals? That’s what the practice week will determine, but he didn’t hurt his cause against Washington where he was also awarded a game ball on special teams.

"I like our secondary, the way these guys are rallying. We could probably do maybe a cleaner job this week of defining roles and giving these guys a chance to really lock into certain areas," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Davon House, I thought he played a heck of a game."

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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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