Bit of Woodson: Hyde Called Smart, Fearless

Micah Hyde, who grew up just down the road from Charles Woodson, plays with Woodson's fearlessness as a tackler. Hyde, the impressive rookie from Iowa, will play a key role in Sunday's season-opening showdown at San Francisco.

Fostoria, Ohio, is located about two dozen miles away from Fremont, Ohio.

So, as a high school football star in Fostoria, Micah Hyde knew all about the legendary exploits of Charles Woodson, who was Ohio's Mr. Football in 1994 at Fremont's Ross High.

"His high school was our rival when I was little," Hyde said. "Growing up and watching Charles Woodson throughout the years, that was someone everybody talked about in my area."

Woodson, along with being one of the top ballhawks in NFL history, is a fearless tackler with a nose for the football and a knack for blitzing.

Hyde, the Green Bay Packers' fifth-round draft pick out of Iowa, led the team in tackles (17) and was tied atop the list in tackles for losses (three) and sacks (two) during the preseason.

"I'm definitely not Charles Woodson, if that's where you're going," Hyde said.

No, but when lined up at the line of scrimmage as the nickel defender, there are some similarities. That's where Hyde did much of his damage during the preseason.

"You know, I don't know that there are many guys like Charles that can play like a linebacker in there," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said on Friday, "but he's showed some physicality in terms of coming and doing a nice job of coming under control, wrapping people up. You've seen him through preseason make a number of tackles coming off the edge. We like some of the qualities that he's shown through preseason."

If not Woodson, another comparison could be fullback John Kuhn, of all people. Former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin used to say that Kuhn would be the first person you'd take if you were picking sides for a game of football in the backyard because Kuhn "just kind of knows how to play the game."

Different side of the ball but same description. Hyde has good size at 6-foot and 197 pounds, but his 4.52 clocking in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine underlined a lack of desired speed to match up with many of the league's wide receivers.

What can't be taught, however, is Hyde's knack for playing the game. With Casey Hayward out because of his hamstring, Hyde will line up at nickel against the 49ers. Coach Mike McCarthy has said Hyde has the ball skills to play on offense. He might line up as the punt returner against San Francisco, as well.

"I think he can play a number of positions," Capers said. "One thing about Micah, he's an instinctive football player, smart guy. I think you've seen his toughness. I think he's shown his toughness, his ability to tackle. Yeah, I think he can play nickel, dime, corner. Where we need him, I think he can play. I think he's a football player."

That's what Hyde was at Fostoria, where he set 17 school records. He was an all-state quarterback who threw for 65 touchdowns and rushed for 46 more. He was a six-time, first-team all-conference selection at quarterback, cornerback and kicker.

"I'm not the biggest, I'm not the strongest, I'm not the fastest," Hyde said. "So, I like to think I can play a little football."

At Iowa, Hyde won the Big Ten's Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award as a senior. The 40 time at the Combine pushed Hyde deep into the fifth round and to the Packers. Playing corner and nickel, Hyde immediately stood out while taking advantage of injuries to Hayward and Tramon Williams.

Hyde will be put to the test this week beyond occasionally playing coverage against Vernon Davis. The nickel spot is as much run defender as cover man. The 49ers, with three first-round pick on the offensive line, bruising running back Frank Gore and freakish quarterback Colin Kaepernick, are about as physical as any offense in the league.

"He plays hard. He can really tackle," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said recently. "Is he going to be 100 percent on tackles? Probably not. Nobody is, but the willingness to go in there and hit it and hit it without fear, I've been impressed with that."

That's just how Hyde plays. No different than 16-year veteran Woodson.

"I like to think I can come up and support the run," Hyde said. "I was taught in the past to throw your body around, try to make the tackle any way possible. They're a physical team. This is going to be a test for me and the rest of the defense."


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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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