Before Micah Hyde was Green Bay’s jack-of-all-trades defensive back and special-teamer, he was one highly annoyed rookie.
“When I first got here, Joe was hard on me,” Whitt said of cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt. “Joe was, oh, my gosh, I can remember being in meetings and it was like, ‘Dude, shut up.’ Those other guys in there were just learning corner but he had me learning corner, nickel and dime at the same time. I’m walking out of practices with a few ME’s (mental errors) and he’s getting on me in the film and I’m like, ‘Dude, if these guys had the same positions I did, they’d have more than I would.’”
Hyde might not be a starter but he’s one of the more irreplaceable players on the roster. That was evident on Friday night against Cleveland. Hyde and his fellow defensive backs didn’t even realize standout safety Morgan Burnett was unavailable until going through pregame drills. “We’re like, ‘What the heck?’ Hyde recalled. Without missing a beat, he took Burnett’s place in the lineup and made an incredible interception near the goal line.
“Looking back, it’s the best thing for me – learning those positions right away – and now whatever position I’m thrown into, I can operate with the best of my abilities,” Hyde said.
Hyde has been a fixture in the slot positions, where most of his combined 15 starts came during his rookie and second seasons. Last year, five of his seven starts came at safety and he recorded a career-high three interceptions. As a punt returner, he is tied for second in the NFL with three touchdowns the past three seasons.
“Micah’s a complete football player,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s a four-down football player. He came here and had corner ability, showed up and played early on special teams, excellent punt returner. You look at Micah and everybody wants to do the depth chart and call 11 guys starters. He definitely has starter value in my eyes because he does so much for our football team.”
Burnett is considered one of the cornerstones of the defense due to his combination of skill and intelligence. However, when he missed five of the first six games last year, Hyde took his place in the starting lineup and helped the Packers to five victories.
“I think it was evident last year when we lost Morgan early in the season and Micah stepped in and did an outstanding job for us,” safeties coach Darren Perry said. “His relationship, the chemistry he developed with Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix), I thought that was important. Micah’s a very versatile guy and he brings a lot of experience and he’s smart, he understands football, you can talk to him. When he’s out there on the field, there’s really no worries. He’s like a starter for us.”
Whitt was hard on Hyde for a reason. He saw the potential in Hyde, a fifth-round pick, right away.
“He’s rare,” Whitt said. “He’s very smart. He might be the one guy in the secondary who can play both safeties, the star and the will (slot positions) and if we need to get him out there at corner. His knowledge of the defense and his skill-set to go with that, that makes him a hybrid-type player and makes him a guy that we have to have on the field as much as possible. In my opinion, he’s one of our 11 best players and so he needs to be out there and, when he is out there, he’s a contributing factor. …
“Whenever we ask him to do something, whatever role we put him in, he not only does it, he excels at it.”
Hyde might not have the prototypical speed of a cornerback. He might not have the prototypical size to play safety. What Hyde is is a football player. In a way, it’s reminiscent of former Packers fullback John Kuhn. Former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin used to say Kuhn was probably the first player picked for any neighborhood game because he was good at everything.
“I take pride in that,” Hyde said. “I don’t know if I was always picked first. I was always that scrawny kid, but at the end of the day, whether it was basketball, baseball, football, soccer, I could do it all. That’s not me bragging, it’s just me being confident in my abilities.”
When you’re someone like Hyde, you sometimes fall into the clichéd “jack of all trades but master of none.” Some of that might have been true early in Hyde’s career. But not anymore. Because he can play so many positions, he’s like having two or three players rolled into one – a big asset with a 46-man roster for game days.
He also figures that will pay dividends at the end of the season, when he’s scheduled to hit firee agency. That, however, isn’t Hyde’s focus. Whether he plays 10 snaps in the dime package or 70 snaps in replacing an injured starter, Hyde is all-in for whatever roles come his way.
“I think that’s just something that I’ve kind of been a part of my whole life, (being a) jack of all trades, and I take pride in it,” Hyde said. “Sometimes it can look like a curse, but I take pride in it. Whatever I can do to help this team win. And I’m serious. I’m not all about the outside stuff, distractions. I just want a Super Bowl ring. That’s what it comes down to. That’s my one goal and that’s our goal as a football team to get a Super Bowl ring. Whatever I can do to help, whether it’s 10 snaps a game or playing all the snaps on defense and special teams, I’ll do it to win ball games.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.