Have Packers Struck Gold Again at Cornerback?

It's far too early to say Josh Gordy will follow in Tramon Williams' footsteps. On Saturday night at Cleveland, however, Gordy showed some potential. And because of a couple big plays against the Browns, he'll be a featured defender on Friday against Arizona.

Josh Gordy sounded like Mr. Modesty.

"Just played the technique. I got my head around and saw the ball. It was a fairly easy play by me," Gordy said of his interception on Saturday night against Cleveland.

That the interception was so "easy" is a sign that Gordy is ready to push for a roster spot.

"He did everything right," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said on Thursday. "The quarterback rolled out and he was inside of him, got to 12 yards, transferred to the outside. It's our slip technique. He turned around, saw the flash of the ball, caught it, kept his feet in(bounds). He showed a lot of poise. He ran the defense, and when you run our defense, somebody's going to make a play."

The 5-foot-11 Gordy was signed to the practice squad in September after failing to make Jacksonville's roster as an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan last year. Because Whitt was consumed with getting his players ready for the games, it was up to Gordy to learn the defense basically on his own.

"He's a smart young man and he took it upon himself to learn the defense and he really knew it," Whitt said. "That's why we brought him up (to the 53-man roster) late. Skill-set-wise, he has a skill-set. He's fast, he's strong. He might be one of those guys that on game day, he pulls the trigger and makes plays, which he did in the last game. He'll get an opportunity in this next game to do the same."

While the Packers' top trio of Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields are healthy and will play on Friday against Arizona, Gordy will get a long look vs. the pass-happy Cardinals, defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. It's the same tact the Packers used with the undrafted Shields last season. One big play put him in position to make another and then another as he soared from the bottom of the depth chart to a player who participated in about three-quarters of the defensive snaps as a rookie.

With an interception and a sack, Gordy has outperformed veteran Pat Lee in the early stages of the preseason. Another young corner, undrafted rookie Brandian Ross, had an interception on Family Night but sat out the Cleveland game with an injured hamstring. He returned to practice this week and will play on Friday.

"The depth chart is a fluid situation," Whitt said. "Once we get into the year, it will be more set. The guys that make plays, like Josh — he made plays. He's going to get an opportunity to show if he can make more plays against better competition. If you didn't make plays, you just gave some other people opportunities to show what they can do. That's all it is."

"That's the message throughout camp, throughout the season," Gordy said. "Whoever's going to make the big play, that's who he's going to play in the game. The name of the game is to make plays."

Gordy was a four-year starter at Central Michigan and finished with 10 interceptions. Thus, Saturday's big plays were exactly what his former college teammate, Frank Zombo, expected.

"Josh has been making those plays the last four years of his life back in college," Zombo said. "Not surprised at all. I'm real proud of him."

Could the Packers be so lucky as to find another Williams? Their paths at least have started in similar fashion. Williams, like Gordy, was a standout performer in a non-BCS conference. Williams, like Gordy, failed to make a team out of training camp and was out of work until being signed to the Packers' practice squad. Williams, now 28, finds himself serving as a mentor to the younger corners.

"No doubt about it," Williams said. "Gordy had the privilege to be here last year, to get into the playbook, so he's kind of up to speed and he's showing what he can do. He's one of the guys who Coach Whitt has been coaching up quite a bit. He knows he has some ability and he's getting it out of him. He's showing what he can do (and) he's going to get some more opportunities."

With almost a year in the defense, Gordy has the confidence to play fast rather than thinking his way through things — an absolute necessity at the position. Moreover, Gordy has the confidence to "pull the trigger." In other words, he's got the guts to act when his instincts and film study tell him he's in position to make a play. Woodson, Williams and Shields also have the guts to "pull the trigger" — a trait that's not universally shared among defensive backs.

"That's not my place to say," Gordy said when asked if he's put himself in position to earn a roster spot. "I'm just going to make plays and try to make the most of my opportunities. I'm in a good position right now but I've got to build off of it. Can't be complacent with those couple of plays. I've got to make more."

That's exactly what Whitt wants to see.

"When we can take the ball off of people, we want to take the ball off of them," he said. "That's what he's shown in one game?. Can he do it in another one? That's the key."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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