When Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields left the field against the Dallas Cowboys due to injury, it seemed like it could be trouble.
Yet, thanks in large part to a pair of talented rookie corners, the Packers more than held their own and limited Dallas receiver Dez Bryant to just one reception. Shields is still the Packers No.1 cover guy — but there is no doubt that Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins have made their presence felt.
There is also no question that with those two in the secondary, for the foreseeable future — the future is bright.
Cornerback was one of the team’s biggest concerns going into the NFL Draft, especially after both Tramon Williams and Davon House bolted in free agency. But the Packers didn’t panic. And general manager Ted Thompson found two cornerstones in the secondary in the first two rounds.
Randall, who went in the first round is more polished. He has gotten more playing time this season and has responded like a true pro. He’s been tremendous, notching 44 tackles, 14 passes defensed, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He also blanketed Bryant and held him without a catch after taking over for the injured Shields.
Rollins, who also played more because of the Shields injury versus Dallas, has been almost as impressive. He had a couple of hiccups in the tackling department against the Cowboys, but his coverage was solid. And during the course of the year he has made splash plays, picking off two passes and breaking up four others. He also has a sack and a defensive touchdown to his credit.
That’s why when Casey Hayward was asked yesterday if there were ongoing discussions between his agent and the Packers and his response was no — it came as no surprise.
Why would the Packers invest much money in Hayward, a decent nickel corner when they have two young studs that both deserve to be on the field?
Hayward once had promise in Green Bay, but now, unless he is satisfied taking a modest deal this summer — his days at Lambeau are numbered.
The Packers on the other hand have to be over-the-moon excited about their youth and talent at cornerback. That position may be one of the toughest to fill in the NFL and for the next two seasons at least — the Packers will boast Shields, Randall and Rollins, a trio that may be as good as any in the NFL in the not too distant future.