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Clinton-Dix Plays Waiting Game as OTAs Open

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Clinton-Dix Plays Waiting Game as OTAs Open

Just because the Green Bay Packers made Ha Ha Clinton-Dix their first-round draft pick doesn't mean he was automatically handed a job in the starting lineup.

When the Packers held their first open practice of the 2014 season on Thursday, it was Micah Hyde lining up with the first-string defense and not the 21st overall overall selection in the NFL Draft.

"Of course, you have to earn it," said Clinton-Dix. "Starting from the bottom, trying to pick up this playbook, I'm going to go day in and day out to keep working hard and improve."

It's possible that no one would have batted an eye if it was Clinton-Dix lining up with the starters as the Packers practiced for the first time in a full-team environment. After all, the spot was wide open after M.D. Jennings' departure to the Chicago Bears in free agency earlier in the offseason.

But instead it was Hyde, who actually is less experienced at safety than the rookie from Alabama.

There's no guarantee Hyde is going to be the starter at the position when the Packers open their season Sept. 4 in Seattle, but the coaches using the offseason as an opportunity to cross-train the versatitle defensive back just in case.

"When I look at Micah Hyde, I definitely think he's a young man that can be a four-downer," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "He has been a four-down football player for us. He made an impact on special teams last year. He's a very good football player, whether he's playing the nickel or any other position. He's a natural corner, so we're giving him an opportunity to be on the field defensively on all three downs."

At the very least, the Packers need depth at safety. Beyond Burnett and Clinton-Dix, there's no true safety on the team that's even guaranteed of making the regular season 53-man roster.

Hyde is getting the first-team reps for now, but that's okay with the team's first-round draft pick. Despite competing for essentially the same job, Clinton-Dix insists the veterans in Green Bay are being nothing but helpful.

"They've definitely been showing me love a lot, trying to help me understand the playbook and being in the right spot at the right time," said Clinton-Dix. "Sean (Richardson has) been helping me out. Morgan (Burnett has) been doing a great job of showing me the right way and leading me, as well as Micah and (Chris) Banjo, so they've been doing a great job of keeping in touch with me and keeping up on the game."

The reality of the situation is, it's only been three weeks since Clinton-Dix heard his name called by commissioner Roger Goodell at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, hardly enough time to digest an entire NFL playbook.

Despite a conscious effort by the coaching staff to streamline the Xs and Os on the defensive side of the football this season, it's still a challenge for any first-year player to get up to speed. Clinton-Dix described the Packers' scheme as "difficult" and the playbook as "very big."

Regardless, he's learning, even if it is trial by fire.

Facing Aaron Rodgers in a practice environment day after day can only help.

"He's one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, so just trying to defend a couple of his passes is pretty hard. It's definitely hard," said Clinton-Dix. "I'm enjoying it, and it's very humbling."

Even though he's playing second fiddle for the time being, the Packers didn't make Clinton-Dix their first round selection for nothing.

Sooner or later, he'll be in the starting lineup. For now, OTAs is about learning and getting better, snap by snap and day by day.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Allan Murphy's picture

LETS HAVE SOME FUN BACK THEIR THIS YEAR !

Clay Zombo's picture

Love that they started him out as 2nd string, that way when/if they do promote him to starter he feels like he's earned it. Bravo.

The TKstinator's picture

OMG just as I feared this guy's a bust!

4thand1's picture

SOB, you beat cowpie to it!

The TKstinator's picture

Heh heh
You got me!

COW's picture

I'll old off on calling him a bust until he has a first year like...

Sherrod
Perry
Worthy
Jones
Neal
Harrell
Brohm
Lee
Jackson

...yikes.

The TKstinator's picture

Such admirable restraint.

4thand1's picture

Saying you suck cow, is an insult to everyone who sucks.

COW's picture

..."everyone who sucks"

Are you referring to all the players I listed?

The TKstinator's picture

Don't forget these shitty guys:
Rodgers
Collins
Cobb
Nelson
CM3
Sitton
Lang
Bulaga
Lacy
Bakhtiari

COW's picture

yep - that's a nice list.

guess we can agree that Ha-Ha's got about 50% chance of busting... based on TT's history.

The TKstinator's picture

And the other 50% would be ....?

Evan's picture

I'd say it's likely higher than a 50% chance of busting by the very nature of the draft.

I'd say if only 50% of 1st round picks busted, that'd be a very good draft year.

the real russ letlow's picture

too much talent is a great problem to have in the secondary or anywhere else on the team!

The TKstinator's picture

Yeah, just ask Seattle or San Fran.

Ha! Beat the beloved bovine again!

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