Packers' secondary is first-rate

Depth is better than ever at cornerback and safety, which will make who to keep and who to cut a tough decision for Packers, says Packer Report's Todd Korth

Ted Thompson was asked this week if he feels any particular group on the team has more depth than any other. As expected, the Packers general manager was diplomatic with his answer. "I think we have pretty good competition throughout," Thompson said. "I wouldn't want to focus in on one position, but I do think we have a pretty good 80-man roster, especially if we have all of our guys playing and practicing. And we'll see; it works itself out too. Competition, some guys rise to the top and some guys don't quite make it. It usually sorts itself out."

To say the Packers have pleasant problems in the secondary at cornerback and safety is an understatement. The team is loaded at both positions and probably will have to release some players who could start or play very frequently on a different team.

The Packers probably will keep at least eight defensive backs, maybe nine, when they cut the roster to 53 players later this month. With that in mind, let's take look at who will be in and who could be on the outside looking in:

With Al Harris and Charles Woodson locks as starters, it's a matter of which three backups the team chooses to retain. Tramon Williams is the top cornerback off the bench right now for the nickel back spot, but rookie second-round draft pick Pat Lee has been having an excellent camp and may eventually surpass Williams. Count on those two, plus talented return specialist/cornerback Will Blackmon to make the team.

Unless any of the five aforementioned players sustains a long-term injury, third-year pro Jarrett Bush probably will be headed out the door at the end of camp. Bush is a versatile player who can play safety and special teams, but the talent is just too good in front of him.

The safety position is a little more clear cut, providing the team keeps four. Atari Bigby and either Nick Collins or Aaron Rouse will start. That will leave Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy to decide on either Charlie Peprah or Tyrone Culver as the fourth safety, if the Packers keep that many. Last year, they often went with three safeties. Peprah probably has the edge over Culver because of his value on special teams.

Because of the talent in the secondary, look for Thompson to keep nine players - five cornerbacks and four safeties. From this perch, the cornerback spots will be filled by Harris, Woodson, Williams, Lee and Blackmon. The safeties will be Bigby, Rouse, Collins and Peprah.

It makes sense for the Packers to carry five cornerbacks because Harris and Woodson are not getting any younger. In fact, it's no stretch to think that one of them may not be around next season, probably Woodson. So, the Packers will have to groom as many potential starters as possible in the meantime at cornerback.

Williams, Lee and Blackmon all can be starters in the NFL. In fact, Williams started one game for the Packers last year and often rotated as a nickel and dime back.

Bush also started a game for the Packers last year, but he simply may be a victim of the numbers game in Green Bay. That doesn't mean he couldn't play elsewhere in the NFL. If the Packers release him at the end of camp, Bush undoubtedly will get a chance to play, or even start, with another team, much like Patrick Dendy last year. Many figured Dendy was a sure bet to make the team, but was released and wound up in Carolina.

Green Bay's secondary indeed the strength of the team. The Packers are set with talent for the next couple of seasons and that can be attributed to Thompson.

Todd Korth writes for and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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