There were a lot of issues that plagued the Packers' defense last season, but perhaps the most alarmingly was the secondaryís inability to consistently generate interceptions.
Through the ups and downs, the Packers always have been able to turn the ball over during Dom Capersí tenure as defensive coordinator. Even when Green Bay ranked last in total defense in 2011, its defense still led the NFL with interceptions (31).
Last year, the secondary fell into a rut and the defense finished the year with only 11, which tied for 26th in the NFL and was the fewest recorded in a season by a Packersí team since 2005.
The coaching staff hasnít made any drastic changes to the offseason program to produce more picks, but the defensive backs have taken it upon themselves to get creative.
For the last month, cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House have been working with lobster machines usually reserved for tennis practice to build hand-eye coordination.
House caught his first career interception in a 31-13 win over Cleveland on Oct. 20, but felt he left a few others on the field.
ďItís tough since no footballs are allowed I think before OTAs started, so we were catching tennis balls from the lobster machine shooting at us,Ē House said. ďThereís variations and ways we were doing it, laying down on our back and once we heard the ball shoot out picking your head up and looking for the ball. Try to track the ball. To me, so far itís been good. Does it really work? I donít know. Itís been working for me. I like it.Ē
One factor that should help the Packers in the play-making department is the return of Casey Hayward from a recurring hamstring issue that limited him to three games in 2013. A year earlier, Hayward led the Packersí defense with six interceptions en route to being a candidate for defensive rookie of the year.
Itís not just on Hayward, though. The Packers need a safety to emerge as a play-maker while getting more consistency from Williams and House, who played well in spurts last season.
It starts with turnovers and a basic principle: if you can catch a tennis ball, you can catch an interception.
ďTo me, itís just a confidence thing,Ē House said. ďLast year, I wasnít really confident with my hands. I felt a lot of balls touched my hands and I didnít come down with them but this year Iíve been working a lot with my hands. My mindset this year is Iím the same person but with different hands. Iím catching everything thatís thrown my way.Ē