Bush making move in cornerback derby

Jarrett Bush was one of the stars of Saturday's scrimmage. He and Will Blackmon, who also had a big night, are pushing Patrick Dendy and Frank Walker to be the nickel back in passing defenses.

Jarrett Bush spent part of the offseason working with All-Pro wide receiver Chad Johnson.

Perhaps that's why he's made covering the likes of Robert Ferguson and Ruvell Martin look relatively easy.

Bush was one of the standout performers during Saturday's Family Night Scrimmage. Unofficially, Bush was thrown at four times. He gave up only one completion, a 5-yader to James Jones on Brett Favre's first pass of the night.

"He taught me more than I learned in two years in like 30 minutes," Bush said of his week-and-a-half spent with the Cincinnati Bengals star working out in Miami.

Patrick Dendy is still ranked No. 1 at nickelback on the Packers' latest depth chart, but Bush is closing fast. Dendy and Bush started in place of Al Harris and Charles Woodson on Saturday, and Bush clearly had the better performance.

He stuck with Shaun Bodiford as backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers rolled from pressure, giving Rodgers practically no space to fit in a pass near the sideline. Later, he almost made a diving interception of a pass intended for Ferguson. Finally, he swatted away a pass in the end zone that was intended for Martin.

In between, he made one of the two key blocks that sprung Bodiford on a long kickoff return. While rookie DeShawn Wynn made a highlight-reel block to open the alley, Bush sealed his man to the inside. That was a continuation from last year, when Bush stuck on the roster because of his special-teams skills. He was one of the Packers' leaders in special-teams tackles last season while playing all 16 games.

"I made some plays on the ball and I made some tackles," said Bush, an undrafted free agent last year who impressed Carolina coaches but was cut because of the Panthers' secondary depth. "I'm busting my butt trying to get there. I have to keep working and keep grinding."

The battle to be the Packers' backup cornerbacks is shaping up to be a real doozy, a battle that will continue with Saturday's preseason game at Pittsburgh.

Dendy wasn't particularly impressive during the scrimmage, but he's had a good camp and held his own when he replaced Ahmad Carroll in that role last season.

Second-year player Will Blackmon stood out at the scrimmage. He was all over a deep fade to Ferguson, gave up a completion to Donald Driver but stripped the ball, had tight coverage on Driver when Favre was intercepted during a two-minute drill, and picked off a tipped pass against the No. 3 offense.

"Last year was my redshirt year," Blackmon said of his rookie season, which was limited to four games by injuries. "It was unfortunate that I had to have that year off, but then again, it helped turn me into a defensive back."

Even Tramon Williams, who's such a long shot to make the roster that his locker is in the auxiliary locker room, made some plays at the scrimmage, including an interception and three big hits.

"I feel overlooked somewhat, but it's just motivation," he said.

Absent from that list is Frank Walker, who was Ted Thompson's only significant offseason signing. Walker had a horrible start on Saturday, getting beat twice by Driver on deep routes during the No. 1 offense's first possession, and he was beat by Martin on a quick slant in the red zone against the No. 2s.

"That group's going to be very competitive," coach Mike McCarthy said. "There's going to be tough choices to make here."

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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