Create Account

Or log in with Facebook


Log in

Or log in with Facebook

The Return of Sam Shields

By Category

The Return of Sam Shields

The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of business. A player can be at the top of his game, and then get injured and replaced. If someone else steps in and steps up, it can be difficult for the former star to reclaim their spot.

And it makes sense. If I don’t show up to work for a week and my boss gets a temp to fill in and that temp does my job better than I did, or even similarly as good, I could be looking for a new job.

So when Sam Shields injured his shin – and then the injury moved to his ankle while he was out – the Packers, like my boss would have, moved on. Davon House and Casey Hayward stepped up and performed well in Shields’ absence.

In the 6 games that Shields was out, Hayward had 27 combined tackles, 10 passes defended and 2 interceptions. House racked up 22 combined tackles, a sack and 5 passes defended. So when Shields was healthy and ready to return, he wasn’t given his starting role on a silver platter.

Be it because he was on a snap count, or because his replacements were filling in for him nicely, both House and Hayward started the game against the Lions while Shields looked on.

Too often the story ends there; the player replaced. But Shields wasn’t going to let that happen. When given the chance, Shields reminded the Packers coaching staff, his teammates and Packer fans, why he was the starter. He ended the game against the Lions with 4 combined tackles, 1 interception, 1 crucial special teams tackle and allowed only 2 completions for 23 yards. And he only played 69% of the defensive snaps.

The Packers rewarded Shields by giving him the start against the Bears and while Shields had no tackles in the game, he helped shut down Alshon Jeffery. Shields officially defended 3 passes on Sunday, but what goes un-tabulated is the restraint Shields showed while covering Jeffery. After being hit with an illegal contact penalty in the third quarter while his own facemask was being held, Shields maintained control.

Then in the span of 16 minutes, Jeffery was flagged three times for offensive pass interference. Some of those calls were stronger than others, but it was clear that Jeffery continued, play after play, to push Shields aside. The fact that Shields responded simply by playing the play through is tremendous. In many cases a frustrated defender will react by pushing as well. After the uncalled facemask, many would retaliate on the next play.

Shields never did. He just played his game. And by staying focused, by not retaliating and then subsequently being called for at best an offsetting penalty, Shields ensured that Jeffery would shut down himself.

In his two games back, Shields has demonstrated the type of attitude this Packer team needs. A fighter, someone who on every play gives it his all and who it not content with being second place. But also an intelligent player, someone who plays “smart” football, doesn’t – if you will – play like the Lions.

With Shields coming back strong, the Packers now find themselves with a vast wealth of talent in their secondary. Trying to decide which “hot” player to start is a great problem to have. If more of the Packers players return from injury the same way that Shields did, this team could be unstoppable.

Think of the offense, if Nelson came back with the same fire, discipline and drive. Or how completely shut down the defense could be if Woodson and Wilson were able to return in the same fashion.

Jayme Joers is a writer at CheeseheadTV’s Eat More Cheese and co-host of CheeseheadRadio, part of the Packers Talk Radio Network at She also contributes to You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or via email at [email protected]

  • Like Like
  • 2 points

Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Kevin Lamb's picture

Good article Jayme, Sam Shields is one of my favorite Packer players. A guy who played offense for most of his college time and the Packers saw something in him and kept him on the final 53. Hope he gets a nice contract from the Packers and remains with this team for a long time.

packsmack25's picture

It's pretty awesome that Shields got a few calls this past game, after getting called for multiple phantom PIs earlier this year.

Derek's picture

Good read. Shields has shown great maturity to handle his time off and then come back with a vengeance. His speed and coverage skills awesome. He's always within a yard of his guy and can make plays on the ball. I'd like to see him return a kickoff like he did in the bowl game against UW. Google that, it's awesome if you've forgotten.

Jay's picture

That was originally why he was brought on presumably, for his speed on special teams. That kinda blew up when he couldn't field punts.

Unfortunately, Shields is a free agent this coming offseason. With Williams, House, Hayward, it seems doubtful that we would be able to retain his services.

Evan's picture

He's restricted.

MarkinMadison's picture

In addition to being restricted, let's face it, Woodson's salary is coming off the books soon. If not following this season then following next season. Unless a House without a harness steps up (and maybe even if he does) Shields looks like an important piece of the defense. This is a passing league. AP will break the single-season rushing record, yet the Vikings need help just to make the play-offs. You simply can never have too many corners.

FourEyesBrewing's picture

Yeah, but he completely blew contain on a running play. When I saw that, I saw the same Sam Shields that wasn't quite assignment-sure or as disciplined as he should be, and as a result he gave up a big play. He's like a running back who can rattle off 6-8 yard runs regularly, maybe even break free for a big run once in awhile, but then at the end of the play he fumbles the ball. You love him, you love him, you love him, you hate him.

denniseckersly's picture

That play was brutal. He basically undid all the goodwill he earned by running down that lions punt returner who was trying to turn the corner.

RC Packer Fan's picture

So he had a bad play... It happens to every NFL player.

You can judge a player by one bad play because if you did, there would be 0 good players. No one is perfect.
That run play to me looked like he took a wrong angle on.

I am more impressed with his ability to be all over the receivers without interfering with them. He was getting horrible calls against him earlier in the year, so this game felt like a good redemption game for him.

All I know is I love our CB position now and the future. Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Sam Shields, Davon House, that is the best group of CB's i have seen in GB in a long time.

Chad Toporski's picture

I was rather impressed with Shields this weekend. Good article, Jayme!

PackerBacker's picture

It's nice to see a player come in and play better than expected. Hopefully he continues to develope into a great CB. It would be amazing to have 3 legit CB's and a 4th in House that's as good as you can hope for in a 4th CB.

Steven's picture

This is awsome.

Steven's picture

Casey hayward steal of the draft. Shoulda went top ten.

hayward4president's picture

I liked his play this Sunday except that missed tackle. I was screaming at the tv so loud....small chance Sam heard me.

jbeebe1571's picture

When this season is wrapped up, we may look at the return of Sam Shields as more profound than that of Charles Woodson. This young man is fast as lightning, eager to learn, and improving with every game. Nothing but upside.

MarkinMadison's picture


aussiepacker's picture

Shields has had a couple of good plays over the last couple of weeks. He is still very young at the cornerback position and i dont think is anywhere near his cieling yet. he has put his body on the line alot better than last year but i think it is still an area he has to improve on. If he does that i hope he is a packer for a long time.

KurtMc's picture

Who da thunk it? Before the start of the season, we all were wondering about the secondary. A solid collection of young talent.

Like him or not, TT delivered and his draft picks are playing out.

nice article.

Mike's picture

Jayme Joers, I heard Wilson is out for the year. Is that true? Anybody hear that? Cow, what are some things Shields is terrible at that will end up costing the PAck?

Jayme Snowden's picture

They haven't made the move to IR yet, but he hasn't practiced and I believe MM said it wasn't looking good. Would be nice if there was a Christmas miracle to help heal him.

Lou's picture

A lot of credit should go to Whitt the DB coach for the play of the young secondary players. Shields has added toughness to his blinding speed and that is a dynamite package for a CB. Look at Asomnuha with the Eagles who is among the highest paid CB's, he can't tackle to save his life. Heyward is like Mike McKenzie, can play from day one and House looks like a future Al Harris. What a great combo of young players, Thompson is the best GM ever.

Point Packer's picture

Hey Cow,

In the secondary, is the Packers/Titans a wash? Similar to the great receiving "corps" of the Chicago Bears is a wash?

Please elaborate with your brilliance oh wise one.

Nerd's Laptop's picture

Starks could still come back too.

Be nice to get all these guys back for the playoffs.

Log in to comment, upload your game day photos and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.

Or log in with Facebook



"The Bears still suck!"
"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."