GREEN BAY – Sure, Aaron Rodgers showing up to mandatory minicamp is a big deal for the Packers. Even if we already knew he was coming.
With that aside, it’s easy to see why Rasul Douglas lining up as the Packers’ first-team nickelback is the top highlight from Day 1 of Packers mandatory minicamp.
First-team nickel defense:— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) June 7, 2022
DT Kenny Clark
DT Jarran Reed
OLB Preston Smith
ILB De’Vondre Campbell
ILB Quay Walker
OLB Rashan Gary
CB Eric Stokes
S Adrian Amos
S Darnell Savage
Slot Rasul Douglas
CB Jaire Alexander
The Packers re-signed Douglas after a Pro Bowl-caliber season. He was swiped from the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad after Jaire Alexander went down for the year and finished with a team-high five interceptions. Two of those were returned for touchdowns, which tied for the league lead.
And one interception actually won the game for the Packers: Douglas’ pick of Kyler Murray in the end zone against his former team.
With the return of Douglas, the Packers have one of the league’s best -and most versatile- secondaries in the NFL. However, before Tuesday, it remained to be seen how they will be utilized. Considering Alexander wasn’t in the picture last year, and all.
Sure enough, we received our answer.
Granted, this won’t be permanent. Douglas won’t take every single snap in the slot due to the versatility between he and his fellow defensive backs – safeties included. Plus, there will likely be certain matchups that dictate whether or not he stays inside, moves outside, or simply gets off the field.
Regardless, there are a lot of reps to replace when it comes to Green Bay’s nickelback position. Per Pro Football Focus, Chandon Sullivan was the team’s primary nickelback in 2021, recording 665 snaps in the slot.
Fortunately, Darnell Savage (152) and Adrian Amos (141) are still around to help when needed. And Alexander has played over 275 snaps at nickel throughout his career, so Douglas will certainly have help.
What makes it all the more interesting is the fact Douglas has never played more than 31 slot snaps in single season throughout his entire career, per PFF. He only played four snaps for the Packers in 2021.
It still makes sense to put him in there against your receiving tight ends. Sul is 6-foot-2, 209-pounds, so he has the size to match up with tight ends. And while he’s not the fastest guy, he has just enough athleticism to match up with top targets. There will be receivers that he matches up well with, too.
Either way, it looks as if Douglas in line to take the majority of snaps at nickel, considering he was in with the first team. It will be interesting to see how that works out moving forward.
Featured image via MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK