Enough's enough with punky cornerback

PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh was on the sideline, standing right in front of a fight that broke out in practice between Ahmad Carroll and Rod Gardner on Monday. Carroll's on-field antics and penalties are not surprising and getting old. Tevsh explains in his column why the cornerback's time is up in Green Bay.

Cornerback Ahmad Carroll's time in Green Bay may soon be up. Entering his third season in NFL, the former No. 1 draft pick still doesn't get it – mentally or technically. Instead of improving, like Packers' coaches and fans want to believe, he has reverted back to his old tactics in the past week, leaving plenty of reasons to wonder if he will ever get it.

Last Saturday night in preseason action against the Falcons, Carroll again could be seen jabbering at the opposing sideline during the game for no good reason. Monday in practice, he got into a scuffle with teammate Rod Gardner after being penalized for pass interference in one-on-one coverage against him. Instances like these are not isolated with Carroll. They continue to repeat themselves. Last season he was scolded by former head coach Mike Sherman after engaging in sideline conversation during a play in a game at Atlanta. Of course, everyone knows about his penalty problems.

Even a new coaching staff, it appears, has not been able to get through to Carroll. While head coach Mike McCarthy said he likes Carroll's energy, the sense is that he is becoming impatient with his young cornerback. He downplayed the fracas between Carroll and Gardner, but voiced his displeasure for Carroll kicking his teammate while on the ground. Cases like these do not seem to fit McCarthy's mission of finding "Packer People" to build his team.

Since Carroll arrived in Green Bay in 2004, the Packers have not been able to channel his aggression into production. Carroll is a supremely-talented athlete with a degree of toughness that would seem to translate well in today's NFL, but such qualities have not combined to make a good football player on game day. Instead of looking at Carroll as the team's primary kick returner or punt returner, and at safety, areas where his aggression may be better suited, the coaches continue to work with him at cornerback, where he does not possess top cover skills. They also work through the same attitude issues, which are becoming a distraction. After two years, enough is enough.

The Packers have little to risk by releasing Carroll before the regular season. He has three years remaining on his rookie contract, but what the Packers would lose with his remaining years in dollars they would gain by letting another young player like Jason Horton or Mike Hawkins develop as the nickel back this season. The Packers may take their lumps going with such players in a crucial position, but after two years, Carroll does not appear to be on track to be any better.

So what if the Packers struggle with their third cornerback position anyway this year? Realistically, they are not going to the playoffs and they need to keep one eye on the future. The upside with Horton or Hawkins, or anyone else they may bring in, is better than dealing with Carroll's antics and regretting it yet another year.

Carroll's God-given ability made him a No. 1 pick even if he was not ready to be one. Any player would salivate to have his speed and strength. The constant chatter and no-so-well-thought-out decisions, however, are things that have held him back from becoming a solid starter and probably always will.

With the moves Ted Thompson has made in his 17-plus months as general manager of the Packers, it would be no surprise to see Carroll let go. Unlike Sherman, who exhibited pride as his deadly sin through his stubbornness in developing his own players, Thompson takes a different approach. He is not afraid to take a chance on a younger player, who may not appear to be the safe choice, to build for the long term. Just ask players like B.J. Sander, Billy Cundiff, and Marc Boerigter, veterans who were all released this week.

The Packers can no longer wait for Carroll to get it because at this point it appears he will not. They need to continue to build a team in Thompson and McCarthy's vision, one that Carroll has shown he is blind to.

Matt Tevsh

Editor's note: Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.

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