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In grim Circumstances, Burnett Provides Glimmer of hope in Packers Secondary

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In grim Circumstances, Burnett Provides Glimmer of hope in Packers Secondary

An expanded role hasn't deterred Morgan Burnett one bit. 

Not even a little, as the seventh-year safety at the back-end of the Packers' secondary, now considered a veteran, continues to take lengthy strides in his underrated march to be considered among the NFL's elite at his position.

Of course, that's the last thing on his mind. Especially on a short week of preparation to get ready for an inter-divisional opponent under Thursday night lights.

"It's quick," Burnett told reporters on Wednesday. "You gotta cram everything in, it's almost like studying for a test the week of. It's like putting two days in one. You have to speed up, do everything you have to do to get your body ready."

So far in 2016, Burnett is tied for the team lead in passes defensed (4) as well as interceptions (1) and tied for second in tackles (20). He missed one week of action with a back injury that hindered him all throughout the preseason, despite being ready and able for the Packers to utilize him in his new role as the nickel linebacker in Jacksonville. 

"This is when you really have to rely on your techniques and just go out there and play."

From his days of helping mentor his friend and fellow defensive back Sam Shields to being the most studious of the bunch in the film room, Burnett is wise beyond his years in Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme — a scheme that took Burnett some time to adjust to, at that. 

He's already off to a fast-paced start as far as interceptions go, having recorded just one in his last 46 games prior to Sunday. Against the Cowboys, Burnett ended Dak Prescott's bid to heighten his name in the record books with 176 pass attempts without an interception to start a career. An off-target throw for Jason Witten that Burnett slid onto his stomach to clutch against his chest. Not just his first of the season, but his first interception since picking off Matt Ryan in 2014.

Without his veteran counterpart in Shields on the field (still sidelined with a concussion), Burnett is the undisputed leader of the team's secondary. Around him, moving, interchangeable parts and different schemes that incorporate younger players into roles they haven't necessarily seen before.

"You stay together, communicate, hold each other accountable, trust one another. As long as we do that, as long as we're on the same page, we can get through any down."

Kentrell Brice, for example, may see more work as a safety with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix opposite him since Micah Hyde will likely be playing in the slot come Thursday night. Burnett, alternatively, will continue to be seen in the team's nickel package as the inside linebacker. He even played a snap in the slot against the Giants and took on the challenging task of covering Odell Beckham Jr. 

Burnett has seen 94.5% of the defensive snaps so far this season, a testament to how vital his worth has proven to be in pass coverage. That percentage will rise after Thursday and Burnett will likely be shadowing the Bears' breakout wide receiver Cameron Meredith for a majority of the night. Meredith comes to Lambeau with 243 receiving yards in just his last two games.

"They have athletic guys and they have play-makers on their team, so it's going to be a challenge for us. That's what you look forward to when you play in this league, that's what you look forward to when you match up against your rival like that."

The 27-year old Burnett will be starting his 11th game against the Bears, a team who he has registered two of his eight career interceptions against, but he has yet to see Hoyer under center.

"It's a lot of fun, just from the intensity you have from being on the field. The excitement, the energy the crowd brings into it... Any rivalry is fun, but just to have the opportunity to be part of the Packers, Bears rivalry, that's really big in football. Just to be a part of it is a lot of fun."

__________________________

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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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

Safety is fine, although HHCD has been persona non-grata so far this year.

What we REALLY need is a CB. (I almost said QB lol).

Rumor has it Joe Haden is being dangled by the Browns. If they want a 2nd... man... that'd really help...

EdsLaces's picture

Seing Joe in a packers jersey would be crazy....

RCPackerFan's picture

I wouldn't mind them finding ways to get Brice on the field more. Probably our fastest safety and possibly the biggest hitting safety we have.
With the problems at CB they could definitely use Brice's speed.

Tundraboy's picture

Thats a great idea. Forgot all about him with all the latest going on.

EdsLaces's picture

HaHa and Morgan have both played well.....so there's that.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Burnett missed a game. He has played 74.6% of defensive snaps this year. Perhaps he has played 94% of the snaps in games he has played. So far, he has been pretty good, not great.

Samson's picture

Nothing wrong with Burnett but when he's basically your best DB, you may be in trouble. --- I like Daniels too on the DL but he's the best which means everyone else is expendable. --- This is the problem with GB. --- They have no stars anymore. CM is on the downside of his career. -- Who else is there?? --- This is on TT. The talent isn't what most Packer Fans think.

NMPF's picture

Top 3 CB's injured, top 2 RB's injured, only a couple if any teams have the depth to overcome 2 major contributing positions decimated by injury. There is a possibility your confusing talent with sporadic performance by the team as a whole.

Hematite's picture

I enjoyed listening to Morgan Burnett on the Mike McCarthy Show this week.
It was much more inspiring than listening to McCarthy's canned coach speak.

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