It appears that Charles Woodson is close to returning to the Packers. That’s great news.
So, what are the Packers going to do with him?
As soon as Clay Matthews got hurt, you saw an immediate decline in the pass rush. There hasn’t been a major dropoff in pass coverage with Woodson injured. In fact, we’ve seen a few young players step up and emerge with Woodson out.
Getting Woodson back will be helpful, but it also will raise some questions about how the secondary will look. Here are a few of those questions:
- Will Casey Hayward’s playing time get cut? It’s hard to put this kid on the bench. He covers well in the slot and makes plays on the ball when he’s in the area. Watching Woodson trying to cover a good slot receiver these days is not very fun. Woodson might be a better tackler than Hayward, but not by much.
- Will Davon House’s playing time get cut? House plays with an attitude. He’s far from perfect, but he attacks whoever he’s trying to cover on the outside. Plus he’s big. Woodson can’t play on the outside any more so I don’t see him cutting into House’s opportunities. Maybe if Woodson plays inside, Hayward would get kicked to the outside, but that doesn’t seem realistic, either.
- What about Sam Shields? Oh yeah, Shields. Remember him? He’s close to returning, too. He might cut into House’s playing time some, but I don’t think Shields’ return will impact Woodson much.
- Couldn’t you just put Woodson back at safety? Makes sense to me. Have Jerron McMillian and/or M.D. Jennings done enough to make us forget about Woodson? I don’t think so. There has been some dropoff in toughness against the run with Woodson out. I think McMillian has the potential to be a sound tackling safety, but he’s not quite there yet. While Woodson doesn’t make any running backs shake in their boots, he’ll put his nose in there and try to take anyone down. Don’t forget about his knack for forcing fumbles, too.
- How about getting all the young CBs on the field with Woodson? This works if you make Woodson the dime back. He can roam around on passing downs, blitz every now and then, cover the tight end or snipe errant passes as the center-fielder.