Throughout his four seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Davon House flashed starting ability at cornerback.
Something, however, always stood in the way of his path to the starting lineup. At times, it was the depth chart, where Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields formed the established trio when he arrived as a fourth-round pick in 2011, or Shields, Williams and Casey Hayward made up the primary trio for his final three seasons. Other times, it was injuries, with a shoulder injury taking away the starting job he seemingly had won in 2012 or a shoulder injury sidelining him again after a breakout game vs. Atlanta late in 2014.
After starting 14 times in four seasons for the Packers, House bolted as a free agent following the 2014 season, landing with the Jacksonville Jaguars with a four-year, $24.5 million contract.
House rewarded the Jaguars for their generosity last season. House intercepted four passes, and his 23 passes defensed ranked third in the NFL and was two more than the franchise’s 11-year-old record. He will be front and center in the Jaguars’ defensive plan when they host the Packers in Sunday’s season-opening game.
“Davon’s played well,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said on Wednesday. “Had an opportunity last week to watch him, all offseason and throughout the summer. They have some competition there at the corner position. He has very good tape and he’s an excellent fit for the way they like to play.”
House is part of a revamped secondary that should go a long way toward bolstering one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season. Jacksonville ranked 31st in points allowed and 29th against the pass last season. That probably won’t be the case this season. The Jaguars used their first-round pick on cornerback Jalen Ramsey and signed veteran corner Prince Amukamara in free agency. Along with adding safety Tashaun Gipson, who ranked third among safeties with 13 interceptions over the past three seasons with Cleveland, and Jacksonville should provide a strong test to the Packers’ offense.
“He’s been good,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said of House in a conference call. “He’s been a great member of the team. I know he came in last year and had a lot of PBUs for us. He came back and we felt like he was getting more and more consistent as the year went on, and I think he’s had his best OTAs. I know we’ve only had him for a year but just more comfortable in the system, understands more what’s asked of him and he’s been really good.”
One interesting matchup-within-the-matchup will be House vs. Jordy Nelson. They squared off frequently while teammates, and House had as much success on Nelson as any of the cornerbacks because of his size. The Jaguars could go with Ramsey, who already is considered their top corner, or they could go with the veteran House to take some of the pressure off the rookie.
“I’m sure he’ll draw on some of those experiences,” Bradley said. “Experience is always great to have, but I know it’s a system what we’re doing here. He understands Jordy, like you said. I’m sure they’ve had one-on-ones and matchups. But times have changed. Davon has developed and Jordy has developed, and there’s some new things that you’re seeing even in the last year. I think he just needs to stay true to who he is and not get too caught up in that.”
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.