If the first two preseason games are any indication of what lies ahead in the regular season, then the Green Bay Packers secondary will once again be a huge liability. Position battles at both cornerback and safety remain wide open as no one has been able to separate themselves up to this point.
Charles Woodson will be playing safety in the base defense, so a starting corner spot opposite Tramon Williams is up for grabs. Among those in the running are Jarrett Bush, Sam Shields, Davon House and rookie Casey Hayward.
When Woodson moves to the slot in the nickel defense, a safety spot will open up alongside Morgan Burnett. Battling for the vacant safety position are M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian and Anthony Levine.
"Everybody has stepped up their game, and with everybody stepping up their game, it has made it really tough," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said, via Wilde. "Nobody has separated themselves, but I believe everybody is playing at a level that they're deserving."
House was the early front-runner to claim the cornerback spot, but a dislocated shoulder in the first preseason game against the San Diego Chargers derailed his progress. House has yet to see the practice field since the injury, and his status heading into Week 1 remains unclear.
According to Wilde, Bush has been getting the majority of first-team reps in place of House, but Packers fans know all too well how easily he can be exposed when isolated out wide.
Shields has been largely underwhelming since bursting onto the scene as a rookie two years ago. He needs a huge bounce back from a sophomore slump if he wants to see as much action as his rookie season.
Hayward has been up an down in camp thus far, and his inexperience along with concerns in man coverage make him a risk as a starter. He is a nice option as a dime back for the time being, but putting a rookie in such a major role can have some major pitfalls.
As for safety, Jennings has been seeing most of the first-team reps until recently, when McMillian has been given a look. Despite how the number of reps have been divvied up, the battle remains wide open.
"Those guys have gotten better," safeties coach Darren Perry said, via Wilde. "I know sometimes people look out and see M.D. starting with the 1s and so forth, but those guys knew right from day one it was open competition."
With both battles still so close, it is hard to predict who will be on the field come Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers. With two preseason games remaining, someone will need to step up big if they want to win the spot outright. If not, the fate of each player lies in the hands of the coaches.