Sam Shields: The Missing Link for Green Bay's Special Teams?
A franchise quarterback who can lead an offense full of playmakers? Yes.
A dominant defense? Yes.
A special teams unit who can put points on the board? Not sure.
Even though the Packers have many good areas that wins games, an effective special teams unit is what's holding the team back.
Kicker Mason Crosby missed a field goal in three of the team's five losses in 2009, and unfortunately that was clear as day to those who were watching.
A downfall that may not have been so clear was the Packers' return game.
The Pack's 22.1 yards per kick return was 19th in the league, and their 6.9 yards per punt return wasn't much better.
As if the return yards weren't bad enough, a Packer return man never even got a lucky break and took one back for a touchdown.
So now that it's clear that 2009 was a dismal outing for the Packers' special teams, 2010 may be more productive thanks to rookie Sam Shields.
Shields, an undrafted wide receiver/cornerback out of Miami, made a name for himself at The U for his special teams play.
His role as a gunner in 2008 earned him the Special Teams Player of The Year award, and his 4.3 speed can force a lot of fair catches that will freeze opposing teams' returns.
His speed will also help him return a few kicks and/or punts of his own, which is something that Packer fans may be familiar with after watching him dash 84 yards for a touchdown against the Wisconsin Badgers in the Champs Sports Bowl.
So while his special teams play may have been his contribution to the Hurricanes, it may also be just what he needs to make the Packers' final roster cut later in the summer.
This isn't the first time Packer fans have seen a speedster on the team, however, after Ahmad Carroll was drafted 25th overall in 2004.
Carroll was cut due to his deficiencies in pass coverage, but Shields won't be expected to play much defense due to the team's depth at cornerback.
Therefore, as long as Shields can make tackles and give the Packers good field position, he could settle in for a productive career in Green Bay.
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