GREEN BAY – In his third season, Green Bay Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix cracked the Pro Bowl roster thanks to a career-high five interceptions and career low in missed tackles.
Safeties coach Darren Perry said Clinton-Dix had more than 10 missed tackles in his rookie season. That number is “significantly lower” this season, Perry said. It’s helped the former first-round pick out of Alabama become one of the NFL’s top safeties.
“Last year was lower,” Perry said, “but this has probably been the best year.”
Interceptions are the hallmark for any defensive back. Clinton-Dix had three in his first two seasons. He’s had two interceptions in a pair of games this fall: against Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck last month, and against Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Barkley on Sunday.
Perry said Clinton-Dix’s first interception Sunday was especially impressive. He vacated his half of the field to track Barkley’s overthrown pass, intercepting it in front of fellow safety Morgan Burnett.
“If he doesn’t make it,” Perry said, “Morgan probably makes it. I’m sure Morgan probably thought he had it coming in his hands and, boom, here comes Ha Ha out of nowhere, and he covered a lot of ground in that regard. That was an example of him trusting his eyes and believing in what he saw in the quarterback in terms of the things that we look for, the indicators, to get a little jump start on where the ball is going.”
Clinton-Dix declined to speak with the media Wednesday when approached about his Pro Bowl selection.
Earlier this season, a lack of takeaways were a big problem for the Packers defense. The Packers are now tied for 10th in the NFL with 22 takeaways, with Clinton-Dix accounting for five. There’s another jump for Clinton-Dix to make if he wants to rise from Pro Bowler to All-Pro. Perry knows just where he can improve.
Though Clinton-Dix has five interceptions this season – and eight in his career – he’s yet to return one for a touchdown. Perry said he challenged Clinton-Dix to score a touchdown before the season ends.
“We’ve got to work on his running skills, though,” Perry said. “I’ll tell you what, he doesn’t look like the niftiest guy when he gets the ball in his hands. We’ve been working on some running drills so, when we get the ball, we can go score, because that’s the one thing we haven’t done on defense yet. We haven’t had a score.
“This defense normally gets in the end zone. I told him, 'We’ve got two weeks left, so hopefully we can get in there.'”
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