Packers rookie Kevin King 'earned the right to potentially play more' vs. Bengals

Ryan Wood
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King (20) during training camp Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wis.

GREEN BAY – Kevin King wasn’t drafted to be a backup. From the moment the Green Bay Packers selected him with the opening pick of the NFL draft’s second round, their design was for King to start.

That promotion might be coming soon.

After watching their veteran cornerbacks struggle Sunday night against the Atlanta Falcons, the Packers are poised to remove King’s training wheels. Coach Mike McCarthy said the rookie corner “definitely earned the opportunity to potentially play more” when his team hosts the Cincinnati Bengals.

Later, McCarthy doubled down on the premise.

“I think he’s in a position,” McCarthy said, “where he’s done a number of good things with his opportunities. If anything, he’s earned the right to potentially play more. Smooth, confident athlete. He’s getting healthy, and he looks comfortable out there.

“I like the progression Kevin’s making.”

King played 46 snaps against the Falcons, 40 more than he got in the Packers' opener against the Seattle Seahawks. He more than held his own, including a one-on-one matchup against Julio Jones on the goal line.

In the first half, King replaced Damarious Randall as the right perimeter corner. Randall later replaced Quinten Rollins in the slot, but King stayed on the field.

King, at 6-3 with a 4.43 40, is the Packers’ biggest and second-fastest corner (after Josh Hawkins with a 4.39 40) . He’s also the youngest, and with youth at the unforgiving cornerback position often come mistakes. The Packers appear willing to work through that to push along King’s development, knowing it could pay dividends later this season.

“I think as we go along,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said, “you see these young guys, their reps increase based off of they get more comfortable. You want to be able to put them out there and have them have success. So I think Kevin, each step I think you’ll see him get more reps as we go along here.”

Capers has a history of slowly increasing snaps for rookie players. Certainly, the season’s third week would be early for King to be given a starting role. It might not be an ideal time, considering Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green comes to Lambeau Field on Sunday.

But Capers foreshadowed both King and rookie hybrid safety Josh Jones seeing bigger roles. Jones replaced an injured Kentrell Brice (groin) Sunday.

“Both of those guys,” Capers said, “I think you’re going to see their reps increase.”

The Packers especially need King to develop quickly. If they reach the NFC playoffs for a ninth straight season, there might be no shortage of elite receivers.

As they saw last season, limiting a playmaker like Julio Jones can make all the difference in a Super Bowl trip.

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