After the Green Bay Packers cut ties with Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, the importance of Morgan Burnett undoubtedly grew larger.On top of being the Packers’ key communicator on the back end of the defense, he was a turnover machine, constantly hovering deep in the middle of the defense waiting for his opportunity to jump routes or lay the lumber to an unsuspecting wide receiver.
And if the first week of training camp is any indication–Burnett appears capable of picking up right where Collins left off.
Playing alongside Collins, Burnett’s role often required him to play closer to the line of scrimmage–something that the 6’1″ 209-pound safety is certainly capable of doing but didn’t seem like a natural fit for his long build and rangy skill set.
Burnett missed the final 12 games games of his rookie season, and Collins missed the final 14 last year–as a result, the highly athletic and similarly skilled duo only started six games together. Now with Collins having been released by the team, Burnett will step in as the Packers’ “center fielder.”
On three consecutive plays at Tuesday morning’s practice at Ray Nitschke field, Burnett was the center of attention. First, he sprinted from the deep middle of the field to the sideline and broke up a beautiful Aaron Rodgers bomb to Jordy Nelson, then on the next play, jarred the ball loose from Jermichael Finley across the middle, and followed that up by intercepting Rodgers after Donald Driver lost his footing while running a route.