Packers corners have an opportunity to test their chemistry by playing final preseason game
GREEN BAY — Green Bay Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas wants to play Thursday night. He’s adamant he’s playing Thursday night. It’s in essence a meaningless game, a third preseason contest, against the Kansas City Chiefs.
With Chiefs head coach Andy Reid not hesitant to play his starters, though, Douglas knows the matchup against quarterback Patrick Mahomes can be the perfect tune-up before the season.
“That's the mindset right now, going into this week, that we’re playing,” Douglas said Monday, referring to the starting defensive secondary.
Eric Stokes is a little more ambiguous.
“It’s up to the coaches here,” the second-year cornerback said. “I’m not fixing to say anything more than that.”
As of Monday afternoon, head coach Matt LaFleur had not informed the team as to whether starters would play, but Douglas shared that the operating plan has been for that to happen.
Whether they will play or even should is an argument for another time, though. The question, as it pertains to Douglas, Stokes and Jaire Alexander, is why they should play Thursday.
Douglas was brought in last season after Alexander injured his shoulder. He played the outside, opposite Stokes, for much of the season. When Alexander returned for the divisional round playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers, he played slot and the trio had a limited number of drives on the field together.
Now, Douglas is the slot corner, Alexander and Stokes are outside and arguably the best corner unit in the NFL is gearing up for a season without having played a full game together. In a position that is dependent on chemistry, those snaps can be crucial.
“They all knew each other before I got here. They had to learn me,” Douglas said. “Now we kind of all know each other and what routes that we’ll do certain things on and with certain people.”
Corners, unlike so many others of the same position group, are regulated to opposite sides of the field. As much as they like to talk as part of their game, they’re not in position to talk to one another as much. Knowing instinctually what the other will do can be the difference in a stop or a touchdown.
Before facing Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen with the Minnesota Vikings in regular season Week 1, the trio likely wants a test-run. If they don’t play Thursday, though, Stokes remains confident the chemistry is there.
“That's why we always just playing around with each other, we always goofing around," he said. "It’s just one of our biggest things … that chemistry is much needed. So being out there, doing all that little stuff we do, as you can see from the locker room, little vibes, we always messing around with each other. That’s just us building chemistry.”
And on the field, that relationship manifests itself in a contagious energy.
“That's what we feed off of,” Douglas said of each speaking up on behalf of the others. “Even last week, we seen it? You come in here, come out, talk a little bit, make a couple of plays, that energy just flows to another person and just keep going. Even Stokes came in the locker room today and told me ‘man you turned me up. I was chilling until you.’ So we all feed off each other when everyone’s making plays.”
The Packers have a chance to test their already lauded defense Thursday night. The injury risk weighs heavily, but the opportunity to see what they’re capable of means even more to those suiting up.
Asked if he wants to play against the Chiefs, Douglas didn’t have to think for a second:
“For sure. I think that's our mindset as a defense. I don't know what the offense thinks. But as a defense, we want to get out there and display and to see it, put it on tape.”