Hyde Making Most of Unexpected Reps

While the Packers top draft picks are getting much of the attention, Micah Hyde has been the most impressive of the lower-round picks. Injuries to top Packers cornerbacks have helped his cause, as has his ability to play outside and inside.

The past three training camps for the Green Bay Packers have played host to some impressive rookie talent at the cornerback position.

In 2010, undrafted Sam Shields, a converted wide receiver, came out of nowhere to win a roster spot, later helping the team win a Super Bowl.

In 2011, fourth-round draft pick Davon House showed some early promise before injuries stunted his progress.

And in 2012, second-round pick Casey Hayward showed the moxie of a veteran, ending the season as the team leader in interceptions and a rookie of the year candidate.

This camp, fifth-round pick Micah Hyde out of Iowa is making the most of his unexpected opportunities.

With three of the Packers' top four cornerbacks sidelined this week due to injuries or illness (Davon House returned Tuesday after food poisoning and an ear infection), Hyde has taken snaps with the No. 1 defensive unit. In the process, he has gained valuable on-the-field experience he otherwise would not have gotten.

At the start of training camp, Hyde was at best the No. 5 cornerback on the depth chart, meaning his reps likely would come with the backup units. For Saturday's Family Night Scrimmage at Lambeau Field, however, he likely will line up as a starter or nickel back, which basically is a starting role considering how often the Packers go to their sub packages on defense.

"He has excellent ball skills. He's a great anticipator," said coach Mike McCarthy said.

"Micah from the first practice has jumped out."

Perhaps that should come as no surprise. Of all the Packers' first-year cornerbacks — James Nixon, Brandon Smith and Loyce Means — Hyde might be the most ready to play. Following Wednesday's practice, he said there is a good reason for that.

"I don't want to be biased but my college coach (Kirk Ferentz) prepared me for this," explained Hyde. "This stuff here is the same stuff we did in college as far as incoming freshmen and putting a lot of pressure on them to learn the playbook and stuff like that, and then having to go back to your hotel room and study.

"I think coming here I was better prepared for what was going to happen."

The Packers have not been shy about moving Hyde around, either, which may be an indicator of what they think of his talent and mental capacity among a deep group at his position. Some scouts had Hyde (6-0, 197 pounds) pegged as a safety prospect entering the draft, but through a week of training camp, he has been a multi-dimensional cornerback.

"The thing that Micah has shown is the ability to play outside and inside," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said on Thursday. "He's shown that the NFL is not too big for him. Some rookies come in and they are in shock or in awe of the speed of the game and the intensity of the defense. He's taken it all in stride. He's been running with the 1's the past three days and you wouldn't tell that he was a rookie. He's had a very solid camp."

Playing inside and outside has given Hyde a wider view of the defense.

"I think the best thing for me is, you know, the coaches have been putting me outside, have been putting me inside in the nickel and the dime a little," said Hyde, "so learning the whole playbook, where everybody's at, is definitely going to help me make me more valuable and make me better."

A year ago in training camp, the Packers did the same with Hayward, who hardly looked like a rookie from the outset. He eventually settled into the nickel role as the season progressed. But Hayward (hamstring) has yet to practice this camp and seven-year veteran Tramon Williams (knee) likely will miss a couple more weeks.

That puts Hyde in the spotlight, where, thus far, he has seemed quite comfortable among a strong group of challengers at cornerback.

"I think it's going to be one of our more competitive positions," said McCarthy.

Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave publisher Bill Huber a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.

Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com

Packer Report Top Stories