House waits his turn in crowded cornerbacks room
The Green Bay Packers cornerback room is again flush with talent. If Casey Hayward returns to form, the jousting for playing time will hit fever pitch in less than a month.
The Packers return nearly all of their cornerbacks from a year ago and drafted Baylor's Demetri Goodson in the sixth round of May's NFL draft to round out the 10-player room.
Meanwhile, Davon House waits for his own opportunity behind the likes of Sam Shields, Tramon Williams and Hayward.
The fourth-year cornerback played in all 16 games for the first time in his NFL career last season, recording 44 tackles, a sack and his first career interception off Brandon Weeden in a 31-13 thrashing of Cleveland on Oct. 20.
However, House was relegated to special teams for the final month of the season after a shaky performance in a 40-10 loss to Detroit on Thanksgiving when he allowed two touchdowns.
House got his chance at redemption in the playoffs and played well in place of Shields, who was injured on the first play of the game. He had four tackles, two pass deflections and held Michael Crabtree to two catches for 35 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.
"Besides that (Detroit) game, to me I think I did great," said House of last season. "One area of improvement I needed to improve on was catching those interceptions. If I catch those interceptions ... the cameras would've been all around me (during camp). So I've been big time focusing on catching the balls."
House was limited to 11 games in his first two seasons due to injuries and depth at cornerback. A shoulder injury robbed him of a starting opportunity in 2012, but he's developed into a durable special-teams performer. He led the unit with 12 tackles last season.
His goal is to see more time on defense, and will need to remain injury-free and consistent to have a chance at making that happen.
The one limitation with House's defensive opportunities is that the 6-foot-1 cornerback plays exclusively outside where the established Williams and Shields roam. Behind Hayward, Hyde and veteran Jarrett Bush are established options in the slot of the sub-packages.
House saw action on the perimeter when the Williams shifted into the slot of the sub-package midway through the season, but the Packers eventually reverted back to their more traditional alignment when Williams came on late.
"I don't think I'm ever going to play inside, but I'm fine with that," House said. "I like playing outside. To me, it's a lot harder than playing inside. It's a challenge and I like it."
House's goal is to make more plays on passes flying in his direction. Early in the offseason program, he and Williams used a lobster machine usually reserved for tennis practice to hone their ball skills and hand-eye coordination.
That work showed once the on-field work began. During organized team activities, he jumped in front of a back-shoulder throw from Matt Flynn intended for Kevin Dorsey and hung on for the interception.
The Packers changed up their defense this offseason and there could be more opportunities to incorporate cornerbacks. Right now, House awaits his next shot behind Williams and Shields, who combine for a $15 million charge against the Packers' 2014 cap.
House is in the final year of his rookie contract and knows now is the time to make his mark. If another moment like San Francisco presents itself, he'll be ready to make the most of it.
"I think I played really well last year. That game was just the cherry on top," House said. "There were some plays I left out on the field that Tramon or Sam would've made plays on balls and picked the ball off and what not. This year, I expected to see a lot more of that."
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