Green Bay Packers downplay any talk of discord in secondary

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) looks on from the sideline against the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 12, 2016, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

GREEN BAY – It has been a busy week in the Green Bay secondary and not all of the activity has occurred on the field.

Two defensive backs — safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Josh Jones — had things to say that brought attention to themselves and led coach Mike McCarthy to address them in his Thursday news conference.

Veteran cornerback Tramon Williams said the comments from both players were not an issue to others in the secondary and that he didn’t feel a need to say anything to the group about them.

“I understand,” Williams said of both players’ issues.

Clinton-Dix, whose contract ends after this season, told the Wisconsin State Journal on Monday that he didn’t expect to be back with the Packers in 2019. The team has not negotiated an extension with him like it has some other free-agents-to-be, and he sees the writing on the wall.

He noted that the Packers let previous defensive backs Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Morgan Burnett pursue free agency and is assuming that’s the way it’s going to be with him.

After practice Thursday, Clinton-Dix said he didn’t think the story would get as much attention as it did but said he stands by the comments. He said he addressed it with his teammates so they knew that he was committed to this season.

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“I don’t have a problem with anything he said,” Williams said. “I think you always have to separate business from the game. I have no problem believing that he wants to be here and play with us.

“We had a conversation with him yesterday and he wanted to know what we thought about it. All the DBs. He informed us it had nothing to do with us. He wants to be here, he wants to play with us.”

Jones also spoke publicly and probably didn’t know his comments would draw the attention they did. He declined to be interviewed Thursday.

But speaking on the show "Clubhouse Live," Jones said he felt he should be playing more. Jones injured his ankle in the final exhibition game and missed the first three games of the season.

He failed to beat out Kentrell Brice in camp for one of the starting safety spots and would have come off the bench even if he were healthy. During his time out, Jermaine Whitehead established himself as a key member of the secondary and was garnering all the snaps as the third safety.

Against Detroit, Whitehead (back) missed the game, but Jones did not see an increase in playing time. He played just four snaps from scrimmage, all when Brice had to exit with an ankle injury.

“I just want to be out there more,” Jones said on the show Monday night. “That’s what I’m here for. You aren’t going to (draft) a player in the second round to not contribute to the team.”

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McCarthy was asked about Jones’ comments and whether he thought Jones deserved to get another shot because of his draft status. He didn’t deny being a second-round pick comes with some privileges, but he said Jones needs to keep working on his game and get past the injury phase.

“Draft status doesn’t equate to game-day opportunities or responsibilities each and every week,” McCarthy said. “Josh, he’s a battler. I really like the things he’s doing on special teams, and I know Ron (Zook) is excited about giving him more opportunities.

“He needs to just keep battling because just like anything, his chance to play again will be there. We’ve just got to make sure he’s ready.”

Asked about him speaking out about wanting playing time, McCarthy said, “I like the fact that Josh Jones is pissed off that he’s not playing because if he wasn’t, then I’d be concerned.”

The secondary room is getting crowded with Whitehead and rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander (groin) possibly back this week and veteran Bashaud Breeland almost game-ready. Someone is going to be left out when everyone is healthy.

Williams said he understands Jones’ frustration with not playing.

“If I was in Josh’s position, I’d probably feel the same way,” Williams said. “I don’t know If I’d tell you guys (the media) about it.

“He was injured throughout training camp and guys just had more opportunities to get reps. Now he’s kind of behind the eight ball. It’s kind of tough. At this time all he can do is keep working. His number will get called again."

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