Brice Continuing to Stockpile Praise From Coaches

For those wanting to see Kentrell Brice back in action for his second season, football can't come soon enough.

He's reportedly taken a huge step in terms of his traditional safety ability over the off-season according to several of his teammates as well as members of the coaching staff. One of them being head coach Mike McCarthy, who had some high praise for the undrafted safety earlier this week.

"His command is exceptional compared to last year," McCarthy said. "He's really speaking up. At the safety position particularly, but all of those different positions that those guys play because a number of our safeties play multiple positions. Communication is critical. You can see the confidence, the assertiveness. He's so much more comfortable back there."

Brice earned an increase in playing time down the late-season stretch in 2016 and through the playoffs, gaining the national spotlight after delivering a crushing hit to Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley in the NFC Divisional game.

Brice obliterating Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley in January's NFC Divisional game. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

While the coverage aspect of his arsenal left much to be desired, there was something about Brice's demeanor on the field. Something that showed he was capable of sticking around and helping add to the now-potent safety depth on the back end of their defense.

It's because of Morgan Burnett's almost exclusive move to inside linebacker in certain packages that Brice will see more work at safety in the upcoming campaign. He outlines a group that McCarthy deems as fine of a group as he's seen in his 20-plus years of coaching in the NFL, and rightfully so.

Special teams coordinator Ron Zook even had good things to say of Brice, who played more snaps on special teams (297) than he did on defense (261) in 2016. If his role increases under Zook in his second year, Brice's value would skyrocket and turn him into far more of an asset than he's already becoming.

With his natural tackling prowess and innate ability to lay a big hit on the opposition, Brice moving into a gunner role on punt coverage isn't out of the equation either.

"Not everybody tackles the same way," Zook says. You watch No. 29, he's a striker. He may not be as big as some of 'em, but when he hits you, he hits you. He brings it from his heels and toes. I think that's a knack that some guys have."

However, for now, Brice resides under safeties coach Darren Perry. It's safe to expect his 261 defensive snaps from a season ago to rise drastically, even with the Packers drafting hybrid safety Josh Jones in April's draft. 

Early indications based off of how the Packers have practiced in training camp is that Burnett will be the inside linebacker in the 3-4 base defense. That'd employ Brice into more opportunities at safety opposite Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. If Brice can make a jump, which McCarthy says he's already done this off-season, he can prove as somewhat of a modern-day Chuck Cecil with his vigorous playing style.

A big step for safeties coming into the league from what Perry has seen is that they aren't so much vocal in their first year as they are in their second. He recalled the likes of Nick Collins and even Clinton-Dix three seasons ago holding themselves back before blooming in their sophomore seasons. 

"Once they get comfortable with the scheme, they become louder," Perry said. "They become a little bit more sure of themselves, and that's the thing that you see with Kentrell [Brice]. It's kind of neat because you see young guys growing, not only as football players but as men."

With Brice's growth as a player comes the benefit of versatility and the freedom to plug various players into multiple positions defensively. A concept that the Packers could've used a season ago while they finished their regular season with five safeties on the field against the Lions.

"He still has ways to go, no doubt about that. But just the growth and where he's picked up from last year, it's light years."

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (20)

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GBPack's picture

August 03, 2017 at 07:28 am

Wait a sec, Burnett has been at ILB in the base D? How did I miss that? If anyone could post a link on that it would be much appreciated.

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croatpackfan's picture

August 03, 2017 at 09:17 am

Do not worry. You, obviously, missed a lot... You'll catch, by time...

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Handsback's picture

August 03, 2017 at 08:20 am

Zook is right when he says that some guys are able to strike a harder blow (my words) then others. Brice made his impact last year with those hits and frankly don't you think Cole Beasley will remember that when he goes accross the middle when they play again? A player like Brice will make it a lot more difficult for those crossing patterns when players fear those type of hits. The league has very few guys that can instill that type of respect. If he can maintain better coverage, he's a keeper for a long time.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

August 03, 2017 at 08:46 am

I like this kid he hits like many I remember years ago. When he hits you know it, oh and the other team knows it.

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lebowski's picture

August 03, 2017 at 08:50 am

Love our safety group! I just wish we had an enforcer at linebacker too.

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dobber's picture

August 03, 2017 at 09:29 am

The days of true enforcers are pretty much gone. We're in an era now where you can hit, but you need to be very smart about it.

I don't disagree in the sense that this defense needs to play fast, play smart, and play physical...on the edge of the rules, I would argue. The Packers haven't had a defense like that in ages.

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Tundraboy's picture

August 03, 2017 at 10:24 am

Sigh

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Brett Bolzenthal's picture

August 03, 2017 at 08:54 am

Burnett lined up at ILB last year at times too during the season and camp. So far this camp, it would appear he's doing more at ILB than safety....but with Jones I expect there will be a rotation between the two of them.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 03, 2017 at 09:15 am

Brice becoming a more complete player is something that will allow Capers to be able to do more with other players around him. While he maybe considered 3-4 in the depth chart at Safety, he is an important player for the defense.

I can't wait to see Brice in year 2.

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dobber's picture

August 03, 2017 at 09:33 am

Good "perspective" comment. Brice was one of the guys in last year's UDFA crop that a lot of us tagged as having a pretty good shot at making the 53. He still has limitations in coverage, and I think they are limitations that good QBs will be able to exploit if he sees a lot of snaps. Still, used well, he creates a lot of flexibility for the defense and, used in a way that helps him play to his strengths, I think will be a valuable piece of the puzzle.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 03, 2017 at 10:50 am

While he does have limitations in coverage, I don't think he is horrible either. He had good positioning a lot of times.
I agree though he needs to be used in the right way. I like the idea of him playing S with Clinton-Dix and then also with Burnett and/or Jones playing the ILB role.
I think he will be a very valuable player this year.

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Tundraboy's picture

August 03, 2017 at 10:23 am

Sigh.

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Spock's picture

August 03, 2017 at 09:39 am

Actually, I hope Brice DOESN'T become "a modern day Chuck Cecil"! Cecil was a great hitter, yes, but IMHO had a maddening habit of letting the receiver catch the 1st down pass before laying the wood instead of knocking the ball down or contesting the catch (i.e. intercepting). Don't get me wrong, he was a great player, but it used to drive me nuts when the announcers would "ooh and aah" over the hit while the Refs were moving the chains!

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egbertsouse's picture

August 03, 2017 at 10:47 am

Also, in today's NFL Cecil would have been suspended every other game.

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marpag1's picture

August 03, 2017 at 11:17 pm

I would argue that calling Chuck Cecil a "great player" is overstating things pretty badly. He was OK. He played for seven years and made the pro bowl once. He had 16 interceptions in his career, never forced a fumble and never got a sack. He got the nickname "Scud" (named after the Iraqi Scud missiles), because after he launched himself, no one knew where he would land, except that it probably wouldn't be on the target. He eventually retired because his crazy headhunting style put himself out of the game with concussions.

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Spock's picture

August 04, 2017 at 10:00 am

Marpag, I agree with your comment. I was perhaps a little too generous with the "great" label because I was ripping his tendency to hit after the catch and didn't want to come across as a jerk dissing a former fan favorite player. Thanks for correcting that. You have more courage than I do in that regard!

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EdsLaces's picture

August 03, 2017 at 10:46 am

Hmmm weird...pretty sure I said he was the guy to watch a couple days ago. But what I wanna know is who is gonna be the other MLB Martinez or Ryan? One of them is gonna be so pissed...they both have pretty decent potential.

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ZacharyJacobson's picture

August 03, 2017 at 05:04 pm

Hop aboard the Brice hype train. I've been driving this thing since August of last year.

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al bundy's picture

August 03, 2017 at 04:43 pm

Bundy here. For the first time in years i think the pass d is vastly improved as well as the run game. Going to be interesting season. Wont know about linebacker and pass rush until we see it.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

August 03, 2017 at 05:45 pm

Pass D still very unproven. Safety not a big problem, but CB still is. House was benched last year, King is a rookie, Gunter is slow, Randall, to me, gets confused out there far too often, even before his injury, and Rollins is too slow to cover a #1 receiver. So we still have either House, King, Gunter or Randall on the likes of Dez, Julio, not to mention guys we turned into superstars for a game like Diggs. Maybe King will be a stud from day one, or one of the unheralded CB's will seize the day, but for now while I'm hoping for improvement I don't see that great potential out there. And then you Capers, who's a bum, trying to teach them his confusing schemes. Ugh.

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