Pete Dougherty and Aaron Nagler look at the improving play in the Packers secondary and discuss the play of quarterback Taysom Hill. Aaron Nagler/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - Josh Hawkins started out trying to look like Sam Shields, hoping in time he would play like the former Green Bay Packers cornerback.
Hawkins made some headway in that direction with an outstanding performance Saturday night against Washington, breaking up three passes and tossing in a tackle for loss among his five stops.
It was a huge breakthrough for him after an inconsistent start to training camp.
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“Just bettering myself as a person, just trying to be consistent so these guys can trust me, so these veterans can trust me, so (defensive coordinator) Dom (Capers) and (position coach) Joe Whitt can trust me out there with the 1s,” Hawkins said of what he tried to change. “Hopefully, I’ve proven that and they just want to see if I can do it again.”
When Hawkins arrived as an undrafted free agent last year, he watched Shields closely because the two are pretty much athletic clones.
At his pro day, Shields measured 5-10 ¾, 184 pounds. Hawkins measured 5-10 ½, 189. Shields ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. Hawkins ran it in 4.39. Shields benched 225 pounds 15 times and posted a vertical jump of 39 inches. Hawkins had 14 reps on the bench and a 40 ½-inch vertical.
“I had to get my hands taped and gloves just like him because I have to get that whole Sam Shields feel,” Hawkins said. “Some of the guys call me, ‘Little Sam Shields,’ just trying to play like him.
“He’s a great guy. I don’t really talk to him much. He’s a role model to me, so I try to model my game after him.”
Shields was released in January after the Packers became concerned with the number of concussions he'd had, so Hawkins has been on his own. He has a long way to go to be as good as Shields, but he’s learning to use his long arms (32 ¼ inches) to tip passes and play press coverage, which is something at which Shields excelled.
“I don’t know if I’m as fast as Sam but I’m just as quick, I believe,” Hawkins said. “We never raced or nothing like that but I’m just trying to take my style and mold it just like him.”