House's conditioning impresses Packers
With Casey Hayward's status uncertain, the Green Bay Packers could get another long look at cornerback Davon House against Oakland's starting offense on Friday night.
House deflected the only pass that came his way in Saturday's 21-7 win over St. Louis and continues to state his case for more playing time behind Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Hayward.
House played in all 16 regular-season games for the first time in his career last season, but struggled to strike a balance between what was being asked of him on defense (465 snaps) and special teams (330 snaps).
A fixture on both punt units, there were times where House would get gassed after serving as a gunner on the punt coverage team and be forced to the sideline on the ensuing defensive series.
This offseason, House dedicated himself to his conditioning. He spent time working with New England cornerback Darrelle Revis at Sullivan PROference Center in Phoenix and trained with teammate Jarrett Bush, who's known for his rigorous workouts.
"He did a lot of things he went above and beyond what you normally do," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. "If you're going to be that guy to be on special teams and then breakthrough and be a defensive player, you have to be able to shine and still be able to play on defense and not get tired after you run down there as a gunner. He took on the challenge. He's gotten himself in better shape."
The Packers have been toying with different secondary alignments to give their top four cornerbacks a chance to play against opposing offensive starters in the preseason.
Hayward mainly has played in the slot of the nickel sub-package, while House works across from Shields on the perimeter in the dime with Williams and Micah Hyde bumping into the slot.
Hayward's status for Friday isn't certain, but Whitt said roles "might be a little more defined." Defensvie coordinator Dom Capers believes the evaluation will better the secondary, but also provide the defense with more game-planning options once the regular season begins.
"My main thing is I want to make sure I give those four men the opportunity against good receivers and good quarterbacks so they can get a fair evaluation," Whitt said. "It does me no good to constantly see House or Casey in there covering two receivers or a two quarterback, and they're not getting the same speed. That's why the rotation has been what it is and once we get into the games we will have a comfort level that whoever we put out there will be able to play at a level who will help us win football games."
One other player who could be in for extended work against the Raiders is first-year cornerback Jumal Rolle, who signed onto the team's practice squad midway through last season.
Rolle seems to hold a slight edge on sixth-round rookie Demetri Goodson in the quest for a roster spot. With Hayward out, the former Catawba standout took some reps with the first-team defense during practice Tuesday.
Rolle had 16 interceptions in four years at the NCAA Division II level and lengthy at 6-feet tall.
It's a crowded room with the top four cemented into spots and Bush likely to return for a ninth season, but Rolle is encouraged by the Packers' track record at cornerback. Williams, Shields and Bush were all undrafted free agents.
"It's always been a dream and starting from a small school I knew it was going to be hard," Rolle said recently. "It definitely gives me hope and motivates me every day. I know the route they took was obviously hard being undrafted. It just shows me if I keep working and working, and be coachable and listen to those guys who have done it before me, and had same wrap, that I could possibly be in their position one day."