Is the Green Bay Packers' Nickel Defense in Trouble?

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IAugust 3, 2008

With Tramon Williams nursing a hip flexor injury, the Green Bay Packer nickel defense could be suffering as a result.

Thankfully, the Williams injury doesn't appear to be serious, and it's possible that Williams could even return to practice tonight in time for the Packers' Family Night scrimmage.

Regardless of what happens tonight, the play of the cornerbacks behind starters Al Harris and Charles Woodson has been spotty. Jarrett Bush has been getting a majority of the practice snaps in the nickel with Williams gone.

Bush has even appeared in the starting lineup when Harris and Woodson are rested as they are occasionally by head coach Mike McCarthy.

Sometimes, Bush is praised for near interceptions and tight coverage. Other times, there are reports coming out of camp that look like this: "The pass of the day was on the third play of a special category team period, when Aaron Rodgers dropped a touch pass over CB Jarrett Bush's shoulder and into the hands of WR Greg Jennings," reports Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

As far as other options go, second round draft choice Patrick Lee doesn't seem like he's going to be ready to contribute as a rookie.

"Cornerback Patrick Lee once again struggled a bit as he seems to be a step behind," reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Greg Bedard at Friday's practice. "Most of it appears to mental, that he's thinking through each play, which is normal for a rookie in a new system.

"At one point Lee didn't know whether he was supposed to be on the field or the sidelines, which got a few raised eyebrows from his backfield mates on the sidelines."

Lee will certainly make the 53-man roster as a second-round choice, but he could be the type of guy who's inactive every week. Maybe he could be a special teams player who doesn't see the field on the base defense.

Will Blackmon looks like he's being counted on as more of a return specialist and special teams player more than anything. Of course, he'll be available to play in the defense should the need arise, but it doesn't appear he's going to be pushing for a nickel job.

There's certainly a lot of training camp left, and things could change. Players like Lee could mature quickly or a player like Blackmon could emerge.

However, the Packers might be crossing their fingers that Woodson, Harris and Williams stay healthy.

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