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Packers S Kentrell Brice eager to rebound from ankle surgery

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Packers S Kentrell Brice eager to rebound from ankle surgery

-- When the Green Bay Packers lost veteran safety Morgan Burnett in free agency this offseason, other players remaining on the roster at his position knew they may need to shoulder a bit more responsibility than normal.

That includes Kentrell Brice, who was already a vital component to the Packers' secondary under defensive coordinator Dom Capers during his first two seasons in the league.

Brice, an undrafted free agent in 2016, has seen a significant rise in playing time since making the team's 53-man opening day roster his rookie year, proceeding to play in all 16 regular-season games. He was one of six safeties to make the final 53-man roster.

His 2017 season, however, was cut short due to an ankle injury that ultimately landed him on injured reserve.

"Everybody told me to be patient," Brice said, according to Ryan Wood of PackersNews.com. "But I'm a headstrong person. So I try to attack it head-on. Sometimes, I'm my own worst enemy. So I had to force myself to be patient sometimes when they told me to. So that was a hard time for me because I like to go full go with everything I do."

Brice had three starts under his belt last season -- three times as many as he did in 2016 -- in the six games he was active for. He also had three times as many defended passes, his first career interception and the same amount of tackles (17) in 10 fewer games. 

Brice is also the early candidate for the starting safety position opposite Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with Burnett now under contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Josh Jones, last year's No. 61 overall pick, will likely remain in the box as a hybrid linebacker where he excelled in his rookie year.

"I'm coming back, and I'm fighting as hard as I can. I feel like I'm playing better than ever, honestly. Here and there, you might feel an ankle tweak or something like that, but it comes along with it when I'm only seven months after surgery. So I'm ahead of my time schedule. I'm able to practice, I'm able to play. So I feel pretty good about it."

The Packers also hired a new coordinator in Mike Pettine, who Brice has already expressed his glee for, as have many other of the defensive players.

Under Pettine, the Packers' defensive backs can operate around being versatile and being deployed in various positions. Pettine's "likable and learnable" philosophy, despite a complex scheme, is expected to feature a variety of different looks.

"I'm extremely excited," Brice told Zachary Jacobson of CheeseheadTV.com last month. "I've seen things that he's done before with the Jets' defense, with the Cleveland Browns' defense. I've seen things he's done watching on film every day, from the schematic things they've done. They create a lot of turnovers, they play very well."

This is just another day at the office for Brice, who played under four different coordinators during his four years playing at Louisiana Tech. Playing for Capers for two seasons was the first time he had played for the same coordinator for more than a single year since 2012.

"It's very exciting to be able to come into something new -- to buy into it -- and to try and elevate your game more and more."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV and a contributor/analyst for 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 (20) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Razer's picture

Kentrell Brice's hits on Atlanta's Terron Ward and the Cowboys' Beasley are the missing factor in our safety play. I really want him to get healthy and push for a starting job. Under Capers, our safeties played like accountants - except without the sting of an accountant.

Looking forward to the Pettine defense and some new players on that side of the ball.

Johnblood27's picture

I want to see our safetys play like Ben Affleck's version of an accountant.

RCPackerFan's picture

Great Movie!

I think its my favorite Affleck movie actually.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

I do wonder about Affleck's earlier career. Like what was his first job out of HS. I wish this site had more stories like that.

Duke Divine's picture

His dropped ints and slow reactions to the deep ball are not missing from the GB DBs. He lays the hammer and is great in run support. He also whiffs and lays some eggs with easy picks.... "gotta clean that up."

Handsback's picture

I want to see Brice do coverage as well as he hits people. Then we're talking a great Safety.

The TKstinator's picture

“Expressing glee” sounds good to me!

CJ Bauckham's picture

Brice is someone I think could really benefit from Pettine's 'think less, attack more' system

Lare's picture

Kind of curious to see what happens at safety this season. Most articles I've read have projected Josh Jones at the starting safety position opposite of HHCD, this article predicts Brice will start there while moving Jones inside as a hybrid linebacker.

Nice to have options, I'm sure most of this will be hashed out in training camp.

Oppy's picture

The Josh Jones thing is interesting, because within just a few days, Mike McCarthy had stated to the media that they probably asked JJ to do too much as a rookie, and they were going to scale back and have him focus on playing Safety exclusively this year, then another coach- I don't remember if it was a position coach or Pettine directly, talked about moving Josh Jones around and using him in the box like a LB.

It stuck out to me, very rare that the Packers coaches don't have their media messaging neatly organized and congruent.

The TKstinator's picture

My administration strongly supports congruency.
Well, most of us anyway.

Oppy's picture

There's a witty response somewhere using the word unilateral, but I can't quite reel it in.

I bleed green more's picture

I really like this kid Nan can he hit, we need that fire on defense.

Lphill's picture

The weak link at safety might be Ha Ha, he does not strike fear in anyone and is not a name mentioned in highlights, maybe he had the luxury of playing in a great defense at Alabama, he needs to prove something this season or he can follow Eddie Lazy out the door.

TheBigCheeze's picture

....I agree.....he seems to have a bad attitude.

Oppy's picture

We all know he had a down year and sure seemed like he was running away from contact in 2017, but he must do something right that garners respect, as he made the NFL top 100 this year and apparently was #101 last year.

Not saying that list is an end-all, be-all by any means.. But it does show that he got enough votes from his peers that he made the list.

Koosh's picture

Does our 3rd round pick mean nothing to you...? We drafted, rather traded up to draft, an ILB who's 6'3" 235lbs. We have a new coordinator. Josh Jones will not be an ILB anymore!

stockholder's picture

Very true. We saw safety after safety leave because they didn't have enough SPEED. IF Brice does not show his 4.4 speed, he will be replaced. Ankle's have wrecked many a player.

Oppy's picture

Just for reference, average 40 times of NFL safeties:

FS 4.53
SS 4.55

Generally speaking, if a safety runs 4.4s or lower.. he's a corner back.

Clearly, there are exceptions, Nick Collins, Kentrell Brice, etc etc, but because of the logistics involved, upper echelon speed isn't a make-or-break trait for Safeties like it is for corners. Typically playing way off the ball, it's far more important for safeties to have vision and take good angles than have 4.4 or 4.3 speed- it certainly doesn't hurt to have it though, I'll agree to that.

Archie's picture

I have enough confidence in Mike Pettine to predict that by season's end, Packer fans will be happy with their defense for the first time in a long time. Although I am a huge fan of Tremaine Edmunds (can you believe Bills got QB Allen and Edmunds in R1?!) I really like what Gutey did in this draft, especially for the defense. All three defensive units should be greatly improved in 2018. DL was already good and now we have Mo and Pettine seems to like Montravious. Added to what we already had, this is close to as good as it gets. The secondary, from S to CB should be vastly improved. HHCD better produce or start packing his bags. Then there's LB. First, let's hope for more health/productivity from our two star OLB. Then there's Biegel, who is 100% this year and Fackrell and Gilbert. Now throw in Burks, the missing link. And last but not least, Pettine himself. He's got one year to prove himself. If MM gets fired, he will be our next HC or he will be gone. No in between that I see.

Good to hear Spriggs may finally be ready to be an NFL starting OT. I like the G we drafted too. Graham will hopefully bounce back now that he is gone through all these state of the art pain treatments. Aaron Jones will be one helluva RB. All we really need is to find a #2 and #3 WR. I have lost faith in R Cobb - too small and slow. Hearing good things about MVQ!

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