Sam Shields: 'I love competition'

Green Bay -- Tomorrow, the pads come on. Yet again, expect built-up frustration from months away from hitting. There will be quick whistles ending plays. Teams must be cautious. They cannot afford injuries in July.

But if Sam Shields pushes the limit? He probably won't be scolded too much.

Two days into training camp, coaches have sent an early message to the third-year cornerback --- get physical. Jarrett Bush, not Shields, has lined up with the first-team defense opposite Tramon Williams. After a up-and-down season of several missed tackles and shaky fundamentals, the pressure is on Shields to perform this summer. Considering Bush's limitations in man-to-man coverage, his promotion may be more of a wake-up call to Shields than anything.

The former undrafted cornerback out of Miami (Fla.) will be in a battle to retain his spot in the defense.

On Friday, Shields says he welcomes the competition. Asked what went through his mind when he found out Bush would be ahead of him on the depth chart, Shields said, "Nothing."

"It’s just competition and I’ve been there and everybody else has been there," Shields said. "So, hey, if there’s not competition there’s no fun. I love it and Jarrett loves it. It’s a big competition. ...I love competition. It’s the sport of football. You’re going to have competition every year. You can’t relax. You have to keep learning and keep working.”

Last season, Shields finished with 36 tackles (32 solo), four interceptions and 14 pass break-ups. His speed is unquestioned. The 5-foot-11, 184-pounder may be the fastest player on the entire team. Beat in coverage at times, Shields was able to catch up in a hurry to make a play. But his tackling woes also led to some big plays after contact -- something that isn't an issue for Bush.

This camp, Shields says that cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt told him to play more aggressive.

Too often, Shields admits, he simply threw his shoulder at a receiver or running back instead of wrapping up. He has gone back to the film and replayed his missed tackles.

"Yeah, I’ve seen them," he said. "I go back and watch them. And most of the tackles that I did miss, it was me not bringing my arms around. Wrapping up. I just tried to go in like that with my shoulder — not wrapping up.”

He has one month to figure it out. Shields is competing against Davon House and Casey Hayward just as much -- if not more -- than Bush. While Bush endears himself to coaches with his special teams play and physicality, it's hard to imagine them leaving him out wide at cornerback when the season begins Sept. 9.

Seeing Bush ahead of him on the depth chart is motivating Shields.

“Most definitely," he said. "There’s competition with everything."

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