Jennings was an undrafted rookie last year and his quiet-but-steady style of play caused quite a buzz during last year’s training camp. He clearly caught the coaching staff’s eye as he earned a roster spot after the final cut-down. He played mostly on special teams in 2011, seeing very spotty time on the field in mop up duty and for a decent stretch during the team’s final game vs. the Detroit Lions in week 17. That experience will almost certainly earn him a spot on this year’s team, but Jennings has his sights set higher. It’s his work ethic and patience that have him positioned to make a run at one of the starting safety spots on this year’s defensive unit. With Peprah sidelined during May’s OTA’s, Jennings took most of the reps with the 1st defense. He made a spectacular play, intercepting a low Aaron Rodgers’ pass during one of the practice sessions, a play that had all in attendance in awe of his athleticism. While it’s nearly certain both Jennings and McMillian will crack the roster, when it comes to playing time at safety it will likely come down to Jennings’ experience in the defense and on special teams versus McMillian’s potential and performance in camp. I’d give Jennings a slight edge with McMillian never having played in any sort of NFL game situation.
Yes, you are seeing correctly and no, you have not inadvertently wandered into my breakdown on the Corners (coming soon!) Now, let me preface this by saying that Charles Woodson will be on the 2012 roster so this is not to say he is in the mix to “fight” for a spot at safety. But I also told you there would be a surprise or two! The big question coming into this season and with Nick Collins retiring was, “Is Charles Woodson finally moving to safety to make way for a developing and, frankly, faster corner?” The answer is yes. . and no. Dom Capers’ defense calls for many variations and looks. Often times last year and in recent years past, Woodson has lined up on the opponent’s slot receiver. This is what Capers refers to as the “All Corner Okie” and Woodson is lined up as a “safety” in this set. If you ask Capers and Coach McCarthy, they will both tell you that defining the position as corner versus safety is sometimes meaningless because of the many responsibilities and sets that exist. On one play, he’s more of a nickel back and on the next, he’s covering a tight end or blitzing off the edge. This comes in handy when you’re a team in the situation that the Pack are in. Having a solid and savvy vet at one or both safety positions is often key to a team’s success on defense. See the 2 most recent Super Bowl championship Packer teams that featured LeRoy Butler & Eugene Robinson (’96) and Nick Collins (’10). Having “Wood” out there in any capacity with a stock of youth at DB serves the Pack well as long as he has the will to play. Over the past few years, he has displayed how his knowledge of the game and smarts can make up for any loss of speed, ability, etc. Call him what you will. At the end of the day, Wood will be wherever he’s needed most on the field.
Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.
-Jason Perone (@WSB_Jason)
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