Longshot CB improves his chance

Dendy was impressive in off-season minicamps

In a perfect world for the Green Bay Packers, cornerback Patrick Dendy would have the slimmest of chances of making the team's final roster. However, due to the misfortunes of others in front of him, the rookie free agent has a realistic chance of avoiding the "Turk" in late August and early September.

Dendy was signed by the Packers as an undrafted free agent on a day after the draft. The defensive back was out of football last season after he sustained a torn hamstring in a 2004 pre-draft workout. Before the injury, Dendy had drawn interest from a handful of National Football League teams who were interested in selecting him in the draft. After the injury, Dendy's stock plummeted and he wound up earning his degree in Economics and Managerial Studies at Rice University last fall.

Fully recovered from the hamstring injury, Dendy traveled to Green Bay for a private workout on the final day of the 2005 NFL Draft. The Packers liked what they saw and signed him the next day.

Dendy worked often with the first-team defense in the Packers' June minicamp and in the post-draft minicamp due to injuries, or absences by others. Other cornerbacks who would have been inserted ahead of Dendy in the minicamps were unable to practice because of injuries. Mike Hawkins, one of Green Bay's fifth-round selections, had surgery on his knee in late May after he tore cartilage in his knee while working out. Chris Johnson, drafted in 2003, has been nursing a stress fracture in his leg. Ahmad Carroll left early from the post-draft minicamp, and Joey Thomas was sidelined for some practices in both minicamps because of nagging injuries.

With Johnson and Hawkins out, the door was open for Dendy and also rookie free agent Leigh Torrence of Stanford.

"Me and Leigh Torrance took a lot more snaps than we ever thought we would," said Dendy.

But Dendy definitely made an impression with the time he received with the first-team defense.

"He's running well with receivers downfield," said cornerbacks coach Lionel Washington. "He's getting his hands on receivers at times and is physical. For a free agent, you don't expect some of the things that are happening right now. We still want to evaluate him when the lights come on. If he continues to do well when the lights come on, we'll have a good football player."

Dendy (6-foot, 190 pounds) was a three-year starter at Rice. In 42 games (29 starts), he had 130 tackles, two interceptions and 17 passes defensed.

The Packers were so impressed by Dendy's man-to-man coverage skills at at right cornerback in the post-draft and June minicamps, that they began inserting him into the team's nickel and dime passing defenses.

"It takes a lot more learning as far as playing the corner," Washington said. "A lot of times at corner, you know you're matched up (man-to-man) most of the time. When you go inside, you have more reading."

Washington says he likes Dendy's catch-up speed and short-area quickness, "which you want."

It is uncertain if Johnson and Hawkins will be ready to practice immediately at the start of training camp. If not, Dendy will continue to get more reps and get a better chance to play in the team's scrimmage against Buffalo and first preseason game Aug. 11 against San Diego.

"There's a lot of competition here but I feel like I have a good chance," he said.

Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

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