NFL football: Packers hoping Hyde makes impact at safety

Micah Hyde

THE Green Bay Packers’ Micah Hyde goes up for a ball during the team’s practice last week in Green Bay. Hyde, a Fostoria native, can play three positions in the secondary and is at the top of the depth chart for the Packers at safety. (AP Photo)

By GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers safety Micah Hyde jumped in the end zone for an interception on Wednesday.

It was the kind of game-changing play that occurred far too infrequently last season for coach Mike McCarthy’s liking.

Toss in the addition of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round of the NFL draft, and Green Bay has the potential of having two young impact players at a position that failed to get an interception in 2013.

“I think we’ve gotten our hands on a few balls, that’s kind of how it goes, no different than rushing the passer,” McCarthy said. “It’s definitely good to see our secondary start to bring some of them in. We’ve had some opportunities. The coverage has been tight.”

And that’s with one of the starting safeties, veteran Morgan Burnett, watching practice again because of an injury. After sitting out last week with a sore ankle, Burnett has been sidelined the past couple of days with an oblique injury.

All the more opportunity for the Packers to be able to take a look at both Hyde and Clinton-Dix. The former played cornerback as a rookie last season while the latter had a stellar college career at Alabama.

Hyde appears to have had most of the first-team snaps next to Burnett, though Hyde and Clinton-Dix have been on the field at the same time lately with Burnett out.

“It’s a great competition first of all, but we also have a bond on that back end. Everyone is trying to help each other to get better each and every day,” Clinton-Dix said.

He’s the natural safety still getting used to the pro game. Speed is one of the biggest changes.

“It’s a very fast-paced game now,” Clinton-Dix said. “Some of the best, elite quarterbacks. For one, A-Rod, going against him every day is competitive. And just the speed of the game.”

That makes third-year safety Sean Richardson a veteran out of the bunch. One different look had Richardson, Hyde and Clinton-Dix all on the field at the same time in a goal-line practice.

Richardson, who has missed time the past two seasons with a neck injury, is unsure yet just how different the defense might look.

“New faces, new teammates. Just want to bring (along) the younger guys and get them up to speed in the playbook,” Richardson said Wednesday.

For now, it seems as if Hyde has the edge so far to start with Burnett if the season were to start this weekend.

For the Packers, Saturday is the first preseason game as they will head to Nashville to play the Tennessee Titans.

“I think all of the work he’s getting (at safety) now is very valuable,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said recently. “Micah can play two, three positions for us, and the more guys you can have that can do that because we all know how your team changes as you go through the course of the season.”

MEDICAL REPORT: McCarthy confirmed that top reserve offensive lineman Don Barclay would miss the 2014 season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in practice Tuesday. Barclay was considered the top backup at tackle and guard.

General manager Ted Thompson didn’t appear concerned with offensive line depth, though, with 15 linemen on the roster. After the injury, second-year pro Lane Taylor would be the top backup at guard, while 2011 first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod would be the top backup at tackle.

HIGHLIGHT PLAY: After missing about a week of camp because of shingles, seventh-round draft pick Jeff Janis made a nice, one-handed catch over starting cornerback Sam Shields for a touchdown near the corner of the end zone on a fade pass from Scott Tolzien. It made quite the impression for a rookie off to a late start in camp.

Janis’ return was important for receiver depth after fifth-round pick Jared Abbrederis’ rookie season ended last week after tearing the ACL in his right knee.

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