Thomas should start

Cornerback simply better than Carroll

Joey Thomas wasn't giving anything away when approached by a group of reporters wondering if he will start at cornerback in the regular season opener against the Detroit Lions.

"It's top secret until Sunday," Thomas said, with a grin. "I'm not allowed to tell anyone."

Since practice on Monday was basically closed to the media (all but the first 15 minutes when players normally stretch and warm up), the public doesn't know who took reps with the first team and who didn't. It is uncertain if Coach Mike Sherman will close practices to the media for the rest of the week, but if Monday is any indication, he probably will.

All we can do is speculate on who will start at a number of positions, so let's take a look at why Thomas is more worthy of starting ahead of Ahmad Carroll at cornerback for the Packers.

Thomas, based on his performance during the team's off-season minicamps and opportunity sessions, entered training camp as the starter at cornerback opposite Al Harris and in front of Carroll. Carroll started 11 games last season as a rookie but often was penalized for holding or pass interference. Thomas played mainly on passing downs. While Carroll stayed away from Green Bay most of this off-season, electing to work out near his home in Atlanta, Thomas remained in Green Bay and participated in the team's off-season workout program, and worked closely with the new defensive coaching staff.

Carroll, however, gained an edge in training camp over Thomas when Thomas missed a number of practices to calf and hip flexor injuries. Thomas returned to play in the final two preseason games. He turned in a good performance last Thursday in Green Bay's win over Tennessee while Carroll drew two penalties for pass interference and holding.

The Packers should start Thomas. He simply gives the team a better chance to win. He is recovered from his injuries and he is ready to go. The Packers face a potent Lions receiving corp, and Thomas has better coverage skills than Carroll. He showed flashes of his skills last season, then again in the off-season minicamps.

Carroll, for whatever reason, cannot keep his hands off receivers, which will only continue to hurt Green Bay's vulnerable defense. Carroll has all kinds of speed and ability, and Mike Sherman said that the Packers' top draft pick in 2004 showed a lot of improvement in training camp this year. However, he still does not seem confident enough in his ability to avoid the yellow flags. By using Carroll in passing defenses, he'll have a better chance to build his confidence on a limited basis.

Thomas has good speed and coverage skills. He knows how to keep his hands off receivers better than Carroll. The Packers need every advantage they can get on defense, and starting Thomas ahead of Carroll gives them a better chance to beat the Lions.

Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

Packer Report Top Stories