Last week, Quinten Rollins started, was benched and then helped save the Green Bay Packers’ opening-day victory.
Rollins again will be in the starting lineup for the Packers for this week’s enormous Week 2 game at Minnesota. This time, the Packers need
Rollins to be at his best for the full 60 minutes as part of a depleted secondary that seemingly will be without veteran Sam Shields (concussion) and rookie Josh Hawkins (hamstring) and will be without Demetri Goodson (suspension).
“I expect him to take care of business like he always has,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday. “He’s had a chance to watch the video and it’s been corrected and he’ll be back in here roaring on Wednesday morning. Q’s a fine young player and he’ll improve from the Jacksonville opportunity.”
For Rollins, last week’s win at Jacksonville was like a revamped version of Charles Dickins’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” You know the opening line: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...” At Jacksonville, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times and then it again was the best of times.
On the opening series, Rollins showed his competitiveness by breaking up a pass for Marqise Lee and then battling for the ball long enough for inside linebacker Joe Thomas to hustle his way to an interception.
Then came the worst of times. A physical tackler, he whiffed on a tackle for loss that turned into a 37-yard screen to Marcedes Lewis. got toasted on a double-move by receiver Allen Hurns that resulted in a gain of 30 and then yielded a 22-yard touchdown to star tight end Julius Thomas. That earned Rollins a seat on the bench.
But when Shields went down, Rollins came back on the field. And he rose to the occasion.
“You’ve got to. You definitely have to have a short memory,” Rollins said. on Wednesday. “You’ve got to have a next-play mentality. That’s what I took. I was over those plays at halftime. I was looking forward to an opportunity in the second half, I got it and I made the play and got out of there with the victory.”
If the defensive play of the game was the clinching fourth-and-1 gang tackle of Hurns, the runner-up was Rollins’ leaping deflection of a jump ball to stud receiver Allen Robinson in the end zone with 52 seconds remaining. Robinson led the NFL in red-zone touchdowns last season. In fact, his 12 were the most since Randy Moss had 14 in 2007. So, this was no chump. Rollins’ play helped preserve the victory.
“I saw the quarterback throw it up and it was either be a highlight or make a play,” Rollins said. “I was fortunate to get my hands on it enough to get it down and make a play.”
That play turned Rollins from potential goat to one of the heroes.
“It’s obviously a great feeling because you’re contributing to the success of the team,” Rollins said. “We’re expected to make those plays. You take it with a grain of salt. Once the final clock reads zero and you’ve won the game, then you feel a little bit better about it. But during the game, you’ve got to stay poised and level-headed.”
Rollins will have a key role on Sunday. Given the Vikings’ uncertainty at quarterback and greatness at running back, the Packers figure to load the box to stop Adrian Peterson. That means Rollins and the only other healthy cornerbacks, Damarious Randall and LaDarius Gunter, aren’t going to get much help in coverage. Minnesota’s top receiver is second-year player Stefon Diggs, who caught seven passes for 103 yards vs. Tennessee last week. While first-round pick Laquon Treadwell get on the field, former Packers seventh-rounder Charles Johnson is a big-play threat with his size and speed. Plus, the Packers’ corners are going to have to be a factor in run support.
“I take a lot of pride in my tackling,” Rollins said. “That’s mano a mano. I know I had the missed tackle but that’s part of the game. Even the greats have miss tackles. Just clean it up and get ready for next week.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.