Sam Shields

Sam Shields making progress, hopes to play against Detroit

Green Bay—Packers cornerback Sam Shields said he was able to move around well in practice Wednesday and felt that his injured shoulder was improving enough that he could play Sunday against Detroit.

Shields suffered a shoulder sprain in the first quarter of the Denver game two weeks ago and did not play against Carolina.

Practice Wednesday was not conducted in pads, but Shields said progress is being made.

"I feel pretty good today," Shields said. "I did a lot of moving. Things I thought I wasn't able to do, I was able to do it, going up and getting the ball and things like that. Everything felt good. But I'm still taking it one day at a time."

The next step for Shields will be to practice in pads Thursday and see how the shoulder responds to being banged around a little. A bigger concern than that, however, appears to be his ability to reach out or extend upward with his arm.

He said that if he were able to play against Detroit, he would wear a brace on his shoulder to help keep it from opening too far and causing a recurrence of the injury. His former teammate, Tramon Williams, was able to play through almost an entire season with a harness.

"It's just something to protect it," Shields said. "Just like an ankle brace or a knee brace."

Shields said it's been difficult to watch the last two games knowing he could have helped cover some of the opposition's receivers and contributed to a better performance. From the sideline he said he was able to get a feel for some of the things that have been going wrong, and he doesn't think the solution is that difficult.
"It's just everybody has to get on the same page," Shields said. "That's just any sport. Communication, being on the same page, doing what you're supposed to do, being in the right spot. It wasn't nothing big. A lot of minor things we can correct and that's what we're doing this week.

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Sam Shields: No practice Wednesday

Shields (shoulder) didn't practice Wednesday, Rob Demovsky of reports.

Shields was an early casualty Sunday versus the Broncos, as he was forced from the contest with a shoulder injury. While he's considered day-to-day, his practice status will be worth watching as the week rolls along due to his status as the Packers' No. 1 cornerback.

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Packers get good news on cornerback Sam Shields' shoulder

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields avoided a serious shoulder injury, according to a league source.

Although Shields could not finish Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos after leaving in the first quarter, tests performed on Monday showed that there was no major damage. The source put Shields in the day-to-day category, meaning it’s possible he could return for this Sunday’s game at the Carolina Panthers.

The Packers lost Shields, their best corner, on the Broncos’ first touchdown drive. Rookie Damarious Randall replaced Shields, and although the first-round pick nabbed his first career interception, he struggled in coverage just like the rest of the Packers secondary. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 340 yards.

Randall and Casey Hayward were responsible for most of the damage done by Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas (eight catches for 168 yards).

The Packers also lost rookie cornerback Quinten Rollins to a shoulder injury on a special-teams play during Sunday’s 29-10 loss. There was no immediate indication about the severity of his injury.

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Sam Shields' role pivotal in young secondary

GREEN BAY — Sam Shields returned to a very different Green Bay Packers’ cornerback room at the start of the offseason program in April.

A few lockers down, Tramon Williams and Jarrett Bush’s name placards no longer hung from nearby lockers. More than 20 years of NFL experience went out the door when the two veteran cornerbacks and Davon House all departed after the 2014 season.

Suddenly, the 26-year-old cornerback was the eldest player in the room. Five years after making the roster as an undrafted free agent, Shields was going to be the veteran to whom rookies Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter would be turning.

“This year I had to learn to talk a little bit more,” Shields said. “Not too much because I’m not talkative, but just talking a little bit more and teaching a little bit more.”

Shields, mild in his temperament, knows he leads the most with his actions on the field. That’s the responsibility he inherited after agreeing to a four-year, $38.9 million contract in March 2014.

The Packers rewarded him with that contract after arguably his finest season in 2013 when he had a career-high 61 tackles and four interceptions in 14 starts. However, it wasn’t until last year that he made his first Pro Bowl appearance on the heels of a 40-tackle, two-pick season.

Like most of the Packers’ defense, Shields got off to a tough start to the 2015 season in Sunday’s 31-23 win over Chicago. Linebacker Clay Matthews saved the day with his 42-yard interception of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, but only after the defense gave up more than 400 yards of total offense.

Shields, who had trouble getting his footing at Soldier Field, fell down while trying to break up a fourth-quarter pass intended for Bears receiver Marquess Wilson, who then broke it for a 50-yard gain. Earlier, he missed a tackle on Chicago running back Matt Forte, was flagged for holding Alshon Jeffery and jumped off-sides on a field-goal block attempt.

There were positives, including an end-zone pass intended for Jeffery in single coverage. It’s the give and take of life in the NFL.

“That’s how it goes,” Shields said. “Cornerback, that’s a hard position. It goes back and forth. It’s one of the positions you have to forget about and keep moving. I know everybody saying I had a bad game, but I don’t think so. Catches here and there, that’s going to happen. It’s a long season. That’s the NFL. They have great players around. I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

Shields’ situation was a microcosm for the state of the Packers’ defense. Coordinator Dom Capers feels good about his Pro Bowl cornerback and the potential of the overall unit, but it remains a work in progress after a shaky preseason and rough opener against the Bears.

Pass and run defenses work hand-in-hand. Whether you’re tackling a ball carrier or receiver, the name of the game is limiting production and making plays.Packers coach Mike McCarthy counted “double-digit” missed tackles against the Bears, which went a long way in Chicago rushing for 189 yards.

Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt attributed three to his group, which are still too many. Miss on a running back? It’s understandable when conceding 30-40 pounds in open field, but Whitt and Shields agreed that can’t happen against receivers. The problems that plagued the Packers weren’t shouldered by one specific player – it was the group.

The Packers feel like they have the personnel to be a difference-making defense. It comes down to individuals fulfilling their assignments and trusting their teammates. If that happens?

“We will play a better brand of defense that what we played in Chicago,” Whitt said. “If we don’t, we’re going to look like we did against Chicago, which is not what we’re capable of doing and that’s what’s disappointing to me because we’re not playing to our ability.

“If we didn’t have the players to do it or we didn’t have the scheme to do it, that’s different. We have it, so there’s no excuse for us not to play high-level ball and that’s everybody. Not Sam. Not anybody in particular. Everybody needs to do their job and we’ll play from there. That’s just what it is.”

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Sam Shields says he's moved on from Chicago game

Green Bay - For the most part, Packers CB Sam Shields did what he's paid to do, which is keep receivers out of the end zone, but there were some blips against the Chicago Bears Sunday that downgraded his performance.

He slipped, made a bad decision to go after the ball instead of the man and gave up a 50-yard pass completion.

He whiffed on a tackle of Bears running back Matt Forte.

He jumped offsides on a field goal block attempt, giving the Bears a new set of downs, which they used to score a touchdown.

Shields admitted Thursday he didn't play his best game, but he also said he doesn't agree with the assessment that he had a terrible game.

"Things like that happen," Shields said of his bad plays. "You’re going to slip, you’re going to fall, all that is going to happen. You just have to keep playing. They’re going to catch balls, it’s going to happen. We just have to forget about it and move on."

Shields said he did have trouble with his footing and said it was a combination of the cleats he was wearing and some poor footwork. He said his focus this week heading into the Seattle game is to make sure both are in order.

"That’s what I’ve been doing this week, working on my footwork," he said. "(I'll) change my cleats because we’re at Lambeau."

Shields was tied for the team lead in tackles with seven against Chicago, but too many of his stops were after considerable gains. Twice Bears quarterback Jay Cutler tried to test Shields with deep routes down the left side of the field and once Shields made a terrific play to break up the pass and the other time he had perfect coverage and the ball sailed out of bounds.

His special teams mistake is something he said he can't do.

"He was kind of moving the ball and that kind of helps them get us offsides," Shields said of the Bears long snapper. "They did a hell of a job. I was anxious to go block it, I got caught for it. It’s something that can’t happen because it will hurt us at the end. I have to be disciplined and stay onsides."

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Sam Shields taking leadership role in stride

GREEN BAY – As suddenly the Packers’ oldest veteran cornerback with a number of young prospects looking up to him, Sam Shields knows his every move is being watched.

It’s how he felt five years ago as an undrafted rookie, but for a completely different reason.

“When I came in, it was like that. I couldn’t make a mistake, or I was going home,” Shields said.

Shields isn’t going anywhere now except across from the opposing team’s top receiver. He embraces both the accountability and the leadership role that come with the duty, carrying on the mentoring he received from veterans such as Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams.

There are plenty of young guys looking to Shields, beginning with Green Bay’s first two draft picks, Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins. After missing the first three practices due to a hamstring issue, Rollins took the field for the first time Monday, easing back into things.

Randall was the one making the big-splash play, intercepting a throw from Aaron Rodgers intended for Davante Adams in the back of the end zone, ending the No. 1 offense’s crack at the two-minute drill.

“That’s what the coaches are looking for, plays like that, so he can get the trust from the coaches, and from the older guys, too,” Shields said. “That was a good one.”
A handful of other first- and second-year corners are in the competitive mix as well, none more impressive so far than LaDarius Gunter. Undrafted from Miami, just like Shields, the quiet Gunter does far more listening than talking, the same approach Shields took back in 2010.

“Being an undrafted free agent, you have to do that, just bite a lot of bullets and keep working,” Shields said.

With Monday’s practice focused on red-zone work, Shields’ day mirrored the up-and-down play of the defense as a whole. The offense got the best of things early before the defense rose up later.

In one period, Shields was juked in the open field after a short catch by rookie receiver Ty Montgomery, and then Jeff Janis out-fought Shields for a jump ball in the end zone.

Later, though, Shields batted away a pass from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson, and he broke up a quick hitch to Janis.

“They caught balls, I made plays, but that’s how it goes,” he said. “You’re one-on-one out there. It’s me or him.”

 It’s the type of message he delivers to the young corners, never to get too hyped about a good play or too down about a bad one. Such is life at the position.

“I’m doing more talking, not out loud, but taking a guy one-on-one, helping him out, like ‘Wood’ did me,” Shields said.

Rollins didn’t take any team (11-on-11) snaps on his first day, but he hopes to do more on Tuesday.

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Is Sam Shields an elite corner? Packers want Pro Bowl DB to evolve

Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields, who signed a four-year, $39 million contract last offseason, made his first Pro Bowl in 2014. (He was chosen as an alternate to replace the Super Bowl bound Darrelle Revis). To hear cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt tell it, Shields was indeed one of the NFL's top corners, but not quite elite.

“Last year, I thought the top four corners in the league were, not in any order, (Richard) Sherman, (Darrelle) Revis, Brent Grimes and Vontae (Davis). I think, if he does the things that we were working on, he (Shields) can be in that conversation," Whitt said, per

“Those four were clearly better and then there was a group of around 12 — he's in that group of 12 to 14, in my opinion. How do you get in that top four with Brent Grimes, Revis and Sherman and Vontae Davis? How do you do that? That's the question.”

The answer to that question, apparently, is having Shields occasionally shadow No. 1 receivers all over the field rather than strictly sticking to the right side, which the Packers plan on experimenting with next season. “I'm going to give him an opportunity over there. I just know he's made most of his impact from the right. He's going to have to match, so he's going to have to play left and right this year, anyway," Whitt said. "We're going to put him where he need him … and where I feel he's going to be most productive.”

With Shields as the primary defender there, the Packers led the NFL in defensive DVOA on passes to the right side of the field last season, according to Football Outsiders. Given that they were 23rd on passes to the left side and 29th on passes to the middle of the field, it does make some degree of sense to give Shields a chance at shadowing.

The Packers lost Tramon Williams and Davon House from last year's team and Casey Hayward is coming off an injury, so Shields is the only healthy cornerback on the roster with much experience. Green Bay took Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in the draft and hopes are obviously high for the pair, but it's not often that rookie corners make a huge, immediate impact. Shields, then, is going to have a whole lot of responsibility in Dom Capers' defense. We'll see if he's up for it.

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2015 Most Important Packers No. 7: Sam Shields, CB

GREEN BAY – Even after earning himself a four-year, $39 million extension, even becoming one of the Green Bay Packers’ rags-to-riches success stories as he went from undrafted free agent to top-level cornerback, Sam Shields has never been the kind of cornerback that everyone talks about.

Perhaps it’s his quiet demeanor, his relative disinterest in media interviews, or the fact that one of the team’s more popular and high-profile players, Tramon Williams, was always in the Packers’ secondary with him. But now, with Williams having departed as a free agent this spring, Shields’ time has come: It’s up to him to play like a No. 1 corner.

“I expect a lot from him,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said this offseason. “Last year, I thought the top four corners in the league were, not in any order, [Richard] Sherman, [Darrelle] Revis, Brent Grimes and Vontae [Davis]. I think, if he does the things that we were working on, he can be in that conversation.

“Those four were clearly better and then there was a group of around 12 — [Shields] is in that group of 12 to 14, in my opinion. How do you get in that top four with Brent Grimes, Revis and Sherman and Vontae Davis? How do you do that? That’s the question.”

Why he’s important:  The cornerback room is vastly different these days, as not only did Williams depart in free agency but Davon House also left (signing with Jacksonville) and longtime veteran voice and special teamer Jarrett Bush was not re-signed. The Packers did draft a pair of cornerbacks with their first two picks this spring – Damarious Randall and Quentin Rollins – but how quickly they will come along remains to be seen. On top of that, would-be starter Casey Hayward hasn’t played a ton outside and hasn’t played a whole lot over the past two years – due to a hamstring injury in 2013 and a limited role last year – and has to earn the job opposite Shields. Given the situation, the Packers need Shields to be the shutdown corner the coaches believe he’s capable of becoming.

If he delivers:  If Shields has a breakthrough season like Williams did in 2010 – unlike Whitt’s assessment of Shields being in the 12-14 range last year, Williams became a top-5 cornerback during the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV run – then the Packers will have a player who can more or less take away half the field from their opponents. The Packers offense has seen firsthand the impact that can have on an offense when facing Seattle’s Sherman, and Shields playing at that level would also allow defensive coordinator Dom Capers to scheme in a way that he could give help to whoever lines up on the other side, whether that’s Hayward or one of the rookies.

If he disappoints:  The Packers are hoping they can move Shields around and match up him up on the opposing team’s top target, and as Williams can attest, such an assignment means you will get beat on occasion – after all, you’re covering a top-level wideout, and that guy gets paid, too. That said, if Shields isn’t up to the task, then the Packers secondary could have problems given the unproven nature of their other cover men. Hayward, for example, could stay healthy and recapture the ball-magnet form he showed as a rookie in 2012. But if he doesn’t, and Shields backslides, the Packers’ pass defense could become a major liability.

Quote, unquote:  “[Some] corners throughout their career – Al [Harris] was predominantly on the right, Nnamdi [Asomugha] played on the right – some guys feel more comfortable one way or the other. Sam says he feels comfortable on both sides. I just know he’s made most of his impact from the right [until now]. He’s going to have to match so he’s going to have to play left and right this year, anyway. We’re going to put him where we need him and where I feel he’s going to be most productive.” – Whitt, on how he plans to use Shields this season.

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All eyes on Sam Shields

The game changed the moment Sam Shields put pen to paper on a new four-year, $39 million contract last year.

The Green Bay Packers cornerback no longer was an unsung and undrafted gem. Now among the highest paid at his position, more was expected of Shields. He was a marquee player and a pivotal piece to the direction Dom Capers’ defense was heading.

Shields took steps last season toward being the shutdown No. 1 cornerback the organization feels he can be, but there’s still room for growth in the 27-year-old. The Packers are counting on it. He’s the only proven boundary cornerback on the roster after Tramon Williams and Davon House left in free agency.

“I expect a lot from him,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. “Last year, I thought the top four corners in the league were, not in any order, (Richard) Sherman, (Darrelle) Revis, Brent Grimes and Vontae (Davis). I think, if he does the things that we were working on, he can be in that conversation.

“Those four were clearly better and then there was a group of around 12 — he’s in that group of 12 to 14, in my opinion. How do you get in that top four with Brent Grimes, Revis and Sherman and Vontae Davis? How do you do that? That’s the question.”

Shields started 14 regular-season games for the Packers last season opposite Williams, registering 40 tackles and two interceptions. He played in his first Pro Bowl as an alternate for the Super Bowl-bound Revis.

The 5-foot-11, 184-pound cornerback will be the first to tell you he’s an unfinished product. He still has undisciplined moments and occasionally gets caught looking in the backfield, but his speed is what separates him and allows him to stand in against the league’s top receivers.

Shields played predominantly on the right side last season, but Whitt lined him up at the left perimeter spot throughout the offseason program to test his comfort. Shields had too many missed tackles last season — 11 according to Pro Football Focus — but didn’t give up many explosive plays.

Whenever the Packers have asked him to match a top-flight receiver, Shields has answered the bell.

“I don’t necessarily know if he’s going to play on the left,” Whitt said. “I’m going to give him an opportunity over there. I just know he’s made most of his impact from the right. He’s going to have to match, so he’s going to have to play left and right this year, anyway. We’re going to put him where he need him … and where I feel he’s going to be most productive.”

Shields’ place in the starting lineup is the only certainty entering training camp. Fourth-year cornerback Casey Hayward likely will get the first shot opposite Shields, but quickly will have to make up for lost time. He injured his foot in the spring and missed the offseason program.

Hayward saw only about 39 percent of defensive snaps last season, but that he played in all 18 games (including playoffs) was a positive step after he missed most of the 2013 season with a recurring hamstring issue. Rotating in the nickel and dime subpackages, Hayward had 42 tackles, seven deflections and three interceptions.

“He makes plays on the ball,” Capers said. “Some guys just seem to be around the football. So he’s done that with the reps that he’s had. Only time will tell on that, but we like what we’ve seen out of Casey and we know he can go out on the field and make plays for you.”

The only benefit to Hayward’s absence this summer is it allowed the Packers to get extended looks at their top two draft picks, Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, who were taken to help fill the void left by Williams and House.

The Packers also opted against re-signing nine-year veteran Jarrett Bush, who a league source confirmed has been suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Randall missed the start of the offseason program with an ankle injury before returning midway through organized team activities. A starting safety for two seasons at Arizona State, many teams were split on where Randall would play at the next level.

Not the Packers. The moment Randall was taken with the 30th overall pick, general manager Ted Thompson said he’d compete for a role at cornerback rather than being thrown into a jam-packed safety room. He has the versatility to play inside or outside.

The Packers face another high-ceiling project in Rollins, who played basketball for four years at Miami (Ohio) before making a late switch to football. He shot up draft boards after amazing scouts with what he could do based on pure instincts and athleticism.

Those attributes were on display this summer and could be enough to give third-year veteran Micah Hyde a run for the nickel cornerback spot. Undrafted rookie LaDarius Gunter also earned reps with the first-team defense, overcoming a slow time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

When the rookies arrived, Whitt quizzed them on the best receiver they’d matched up against in college. Needless to say none of their responses were anywhere near the level of Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffrey, Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson.

“There’s two guys that’s in that cornerback room, not counting Micah who have played any snaps in the NFL,” Whitt said. “I think that’s being lost in a lot of this. There’s only two guys. I played just as many snaps as everybody else in the NFL. We have to teach them how to play.”

The Packers are stable at safety, a testament to how quickly they’ve rebuilt the position after a disastrous 2013 season. The addition of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Hyde’s transition to safety hastened that turnaround and spurred veteran Morgan Burnett’s comeback.

Burnett registered a career-high 130 tackles last season to lead the defense. He also ended a two-year drought without an interception against Atlanta on Dec. 8 and snagged another in the NFC title game, though his decision to slide with the Packers leading 19-7 with 5 minutes remaining has been widely debated.

Clinton-Dix arguably had his best game of the season in the playoff encounter with the Seahawks. His two interceptions erased sour memories from the Packers’ opener in Seattle when he badly missed an open-field tackle on Ricardo Lockette’s 33-yard touchdown.

“He came a long way,” said safeties coach Darren Perry of Clinton-Dix, who had 92 tackles and an interception in 16 games with 10 starts. “I can tell you the first time we played them out there, he had a lot going through his mind. He was probably thinking a lot and not just reacting. I think that second time we played them out there, he had seen some things. He experienced some good, some bad and I think that helped him grow as a player.”

Behind Burnett and Clinton-Dix, the Packers return Hyde, fourth-year veteran Sean Richardson, undersized Chris Banjo and practice-squad holdover Jean Fanor. Richardson, who missed a year following neck surgery in January 2013, played in all 18 games and led the Packers in special teams tackles.

Questions linger about Richardson’s quickness and ability to change direction, but the Packers thought enough of his upside to match the one-year, $2.55 million contract he was offered by the Oakland Raiders as a restricted free agent.

“He’s hungry. He wants to get on the field,” Perry said. “I think last year we developed a role for him and we’ll continue to try to work ways to get him on the field because Sean can help us. He’s a big-bodied guy who’s plenty physical and smart. He can make some plays. It’s just a matter of getting the combination and finding the package to get him some reps out there for us.”

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Sam Shields says Packers CBs 'better' than in '14; coach not so sure

When Sam Shields was packing up his locker in January following the Green Bay Packers' postseason exit, he knew he'd be putting everything back into his cubbyhole four months later. As Shields looked to his right and saw Tramon Williams and Davon House gathering their belongings at the time, he assumed that at least one of those cornerbacks would be back with him when players reported for organized team activities in spring.

Instead, by the time OTAs began, Shields realized that being 27 years old meant he was now the oldest player the Packers have at cornerback. Williams, who had been the veteran of the secondary, signed with the Cleveland Browns. House, who entered the NFL one year after Shields, went 1,300 miles south to try to help in the rebuilding process of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In typical Ted Thompson fashion, Green Bay replaced Williams and House with younger, cheaper options by drafting Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in the first two rounds.

As practices got under way, Shields watched the new-look cornerback group work on the field and wasn't discouraged by the results. In fact, Shields' impression was quite the opposite.

"I think it's better," Shields said of the Packers' 2015 cornerbacks compared to in 2014. "There's a lot more talent in there."

Swapping out 30 career interceptions and 140 passes defensed between Williams and House for two rookies would typically represent a step down, at least temporarily. That would seem especially true considering Rollins spent his first four years of college playing basketball, and Randall initially chose baseball over football.

The culture that cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt has created, though, is one of competition. He has instilled the idea that the best players will play, regardless of contracts or draft status. And that's part of the reason for Shields being so encouraged by the roster turnover at the position.

"That one position, everybody wants it, and it's open," Shields said of the starting spot that had belonged to Williams. "Not just that position; my position, too. I have to keep doing what I have to do, because somebody could take mine, too. A thing like that is, everybody is going to be a big competition. Whoever wants it."

However, Whitt isn't feeling the same amount of optimism right now as Shields. Of the 10 players that Whitt currently has in his room, only two of them (Shields and Casey Hayward) have ever played a regular-season snap at outside cornerback in the NFL.

"I have a bunch of guys that don't know how to play football right now, and we have to figure out how to get them to play in the NFL," Whitt said.

Whitt noted that defensive back Micah Hyde is "a backup safety" who is "primarily" with safeties coach Darren Perry. Whitt focuses on the players who are being considered at outside cornerback, a list that Hyde is not a part of.

Whitt recently had a heated exchange with his young, relatively inexperienced group of cornerbacks. He wanted to make sure he got his point across about expectations.

"I'm not trying to win football games, OK? I'm trying to get a group of men ready to go after a championship," Whitt said. "And in that mindset, we're not where we need to be. If we're going to go out there right now, they can play well. I'm not trying to play well. I'm trying to have a unit that's a top-five unit in the league.

"Play like we played when we did win the Super Bowl (in the 2010 season). Play like we played when we had the defensive player of the league (Charles Woodson), when we led the league in interceptions (in 2009 and 2011). That's what I'm looking for.

"Until we play that way, I'm really not going to be happy with what I see until we get that level of play. That's what I'm looking for. They understand that. It's a group that's going to go get it. I don't know who the guys are going to be that are going to do it, but there's somebody in that room, and I'm confident that the men that will get it done are in that room. I just don't know who they are right now."

Whitt added that if rookies such as Randall and Rollins didn't understand how high his expectations were before, it became loud and clear after a confrontation early in OTAs.

"I lost my mind in there," Whitt said. "They have a firm understanding of what I'm looking for."

Second-year player Demetri Goodson, who didn't earn himself any defensive snaps as a rookie, said Whitt is "super hard" on everybody, but described him as "a great, great coach."

Whitt isn't normally the type of coach to yell, and his current top players haven't been that vocal throughout their careers.

"That's something that's hard for me," Shields said. "I try my best. I do get in the young guys' head and tell them what's wrong and what's right, things like that. And they do listen. That's a good thing."

Hayward is "about the same" in terms of speaking up to the group, according to Shields, who insisted "it's not being loud" that matters. Shields knows it's on him now, though, to let his voice be heard.

"I've always been ready for this position," Shields said. "I didn't know it was coming. We lost two wonderful guys (in Williams and House). I'm the oldest of the group, so I have to step up and play that role."

Hayward will be looking to earn a new contract next offseason as he plays out the final year of his rookie deal, Randall and Rollins will just be getting their feet wet in the NFL, Goodson's future is still very much in to-be-determined mode, and undrafted rookies like Ladarius Gunter and Bernard Blake have a ton to learn.

It puts a lot on Whitt's plate to make sure they all stay on the same page. It's a group that also has to improve quickly if Green Bay's cornerbacks are going to be
ready for the regular season in early September.

"We have an immense amount of work to do," Whitt said. "That's the only thing I think about right now. We have a lot to work through."

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Sam Shields eager to fill void in Packers secondary

Cornerback Sam Shields, a former undrafted rookie, is in line for a new role with the Green Bay Packers this season. Tramon Williams signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent this spring, so it's time for Shields to step up as the leader of the secondary.

"Somebody's got to fill that spot," Shields told Ryan Wood of Press-Gazette Media. "...[H]ey, I'm the oldest of the group. So that's what they want me to do, just take that role. That's what I'm trying to do."

Shields has been with the Packers since 2010. The Miami product signed a four-year, $39 million deal before the 2014 season, and he followed it up with his first Pro Bowl appearance. Through five NFL seasons, Shields has recorded 15 interceptions but has never played all 16 games.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is impressed with Shields' progress as a professional and willingness to take on a leadership role.

"Leadership is a huge part of your locker room culture," McCarthy told Press-Gazette Media. "You can't assign leadership. I don't think that works. That's something that has to come from within the locker room. We try to create as many opportunities—emphasize, educate and anything that we think can help our locker room improve.

"I think you're just seeing Sam step up, and he's seen the people before him in that role, and it's good to see he's comfortable taking the initiative to do so."

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History with Shields, Williams led CB Gunter to sign with Packers despite logjam

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some undrafted players don't have much of a choice when it comes to where they sign. Those are the players who are just happy to get an opportunity anywhere. For priority undrafted free agents, however, the decision that follows the disappointment of not being selected is the most important one of their young football careers.

The Green Bay Packers boast -- at least through their own independent study -- the NFL's best opportunity for undrafted players to make the 53-man active roster. It's a significant part of their sales pitch to the best of the best players who don't hear their names called.

Aside from the raw research data of success rate, undrafted players also need to have a strong grasp on the depth chart of each team that's interested in them, especially at their position. It's for that reason that some might question why cornerback Ladarius Gunter would decide to join the Packers.

Gunter watched as Green Bay picked Damarious Randall in the first round, with the team quickly making it clear that it viewed the Arizona State defensive back as a cornerback rather than a safety. Then, Gunter saw the Packers go with another cornerback in the second round, Quinten Rollins. That's in addition to Green Bay already having Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Demetri Goodson under contract at that spot.

Gunter, projected by as a sixth-round pick, didn't let any of that deter him from signing with the Packers.

"I'm a competitor," Gunter said frankly.

It was obvious that Gunter did not care who he'd have to beat out for a job. The three-year starter at the University of Miami was determined to find a way to make it in Green Bay.

But it's not like Gunter blindly went with the Packers. He shares an alma mater with Shields, who signed with Green Bay as an undrafted cornerback in 2010 and is now working under a $39 million contract. The Packers also helped turn Tramon Williams from a 2006 undrafted cornerback into a player now entering his 10th NFL season.

"I had watched those guys and watched where they came from, and see how Green Bay had worked with them and put them in good situations," Gunter said.
Gunter added that the development of Shields and Williams "played a big part in it."

Gunter didn't specify how many contract offers he received following the draft, saying only that it was "a lot of teams." Still, it didn't take him much thought before agreeing to terms with Green Bay.

"I felt it was the best fit for me," Gunter said. "I knew that if I came in and competed that it would give me a chance."

Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt had that exact message midway through draft weekend after the Packers had selected Randall and Rollins. Draft position means nothing to Whitt when deciding who should be on the field and who should be on the bench.

"If it's a first-rounder or a free agent, if you play well, you'll play," Whitt said. "If you don't, you'll sit there and watch. I hope both of these guys (Randall and Rollins) don't think they're going to come in just because of their pedigree that they're going to necessarily play in front of anybody else. That's not how it works in our room. The best guys play."

That bodes well for Gunter if he comes out strong in training camp.

Whitt's work since being promoted to his current position in 2009 is also beginning to enter the equation for undrafted cornerbacks.

"Joe Whitt is excellent," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "His reputation of what we've done here in the past with our young corners speaks for itself. So, the culture is set, there's a blueprint there of taking young guys and getting them ready."

Standing nearly 6-foot-2 and weighing 202 pounds, Gunter finds himself as the biggest player in Green Bay's cornerback room. Randall, Rollins, Hayward, Shields and Goodson are all 5-11.

"With faster guys I can get my hands on them and slow them down," Gunter said. "Bigger guys, I can use my body to jump and play with those guys. (Size) plays a role in both situations."

Gunter's size led to 50 percent of the NFL teams he spoke with during the draft process to view him as a safety. The Packers weren't one of those teams, but it doesn't mean they couldn't give that a shot at some point in an attempt to make Gunter more versatile -- and therefore, valuable -- to the defense.

Gunter doesn't have the speed of Randall and Rollins. Gunter ran a 4.69 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, slower than both Randall (4.46) and Rollins (4.57). Gunter insisted that he plays faster than his timed speed, though.

"Some people are fast in a straight line," he said. "I feel I'm just a football player. I'm not a track star. I play fast on the football field."

It remains to be seen whether there's enough room on the Packers defense for Gunter to join fellow rookies Randall and Rollins on the active roster. But if there's one NFL team on which it might be possible, it's Green Bay.

"The best players play, the next guys watch," Whitt said.

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Sam Shields hoops tournament tips off today

SARASOTA — Sam Shields wants to stay close to the NFL receivers he covers. But as a youth growing up in Sarasota, he was even closer to the Robert L. Taylor Community Center.

The former Booker High star and current Green Bay Packers cornerback is lending his name to the Sam “Sticky” Shields Basketball Tournament, set for today and Saturday at the center, at 1845 34th St.

Shields spent much of his youth at Robert Taylor, and now that he’s established himself in the league, finds time to give back.

“He’s always here, doing positive for the young kids, working with our kids,” said Arthur Larkins, a supervisor at the Center. “Helping them with things they don’t even know it’s him helping — getting them shoes, clothes for school. Filling the gap where some of the parents aren’t in the gap.”

The tournament will attract teams comprised of players age 18 and up from Tampa, Palmetto, Bradenton and Sarasota, all competing for a first-place prize of $2,000. Larkins said Shields will be in attendance Saturday to hand out the money.

All the teams are guaranteed at least two games. Play starts with two games tonight at 6 and 7. The losers of those contests will play on Saturday morning, with the title game set for Saturday night.

Among the players scheduled to participate are former Riverview High and Central Florida star Tony Davis.

Larkins hopes the tournamentstarts a yearly tradition “where it will grow.” All proceeds will benefit the youth programs at the Robert L. Taylor Community Center.

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Packers Annual Checkup: Sam Shields

Sam Shields, cornerback

FOX Sports Wisconsin's Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. You can find every report here.

Season stats (playoffs included): 16 games, 16 starts (945 snaps; 76.2 percent of total defensive snaps), 44 tackles, 12 missed tackles, zero sacks, three interceptions, 11 passes defensed, zero forced fumbles, one penalty committed, eight stops (solo tackles that resulted in offensive failure); targeted 86 times in coverage, allowing 44 receptions for 701 yards and five touchdowns season rating: Minus-3.3 (ranked No. 15 out of 24 Packers defensive players; ranked No. 67 out of 110 among NFL cornerbacks)
Best game: Week 6 win over Miami (played 35 of 60 snaps); zero interceptions, two passes defensed, zero tackles, zero missed tackles; targeted three times in coverage, allowing one reception for one yard; 3.1 PFF rating

Worst game: Week 14 win against Atlanta (played 46 of 68 snaps); zero interceptions, zero passes defensed, two tackles, zero missed tackles; targeted eight times in coverage, allowing four receptions for 75 yards and one touchdown; minus-3.2 PFF rating

Expectations at the start of the season: Medium

Expectations were ...  Met

Looking live: Sam Shields cashed in as an unrestricted free agent in March 2014. As his asking price got higher and higher, the Packers stayed involved in the bidding and retained their starting cornerback on a four-year, $39 million ($12.5 million guaranteed) contract. It was a rare instance of Ted Thompson seemingly extending beyond his financial comfort zone in order to avoid losing a player he valued. A year later, the ramifications of giving Shields so much money was Green Bay not re-signing either Tramon Williams or Davon House. With an investment of that size in Shields, the Packers opted not to leave their financial comfort zone to keep Williams or House from leaving.

It comes with the territory that Mike McCarthy now classified Shields as a "core player," which brought about new responsibilities for the then-26-year-old player. "There's certain things the coaches want you to do now," Shields said in June 2014. "You've got to be that guy to help out the defense."

There was a lot of confidence within the organization that Shields would live up to his new contract.

"He needs to be a top-level corner in every aspect of the game, and he has that ability," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said during the 2014 offseason. "Sam's best football is still in front of him. I honestly believe he has two more years of ascending and then he's going to play at that level for another four years. That's six years of just really good football ahead of him. And by then he's 32, he might have more. I see two more years of getting better and four more of holding that type of high quality play."

Shields was No. 12 on's "Most Important Packers of 2014" series. I wrote at the time that Shields was ranked at that spot "because he can't take a step back now that he's a very wealthy man. The Packers need him to at least be as good as he's been in recent years, though the team would clearly love it if he continued improving. Green Bay has good depth at cornerback, but the importance of Shields locking down one of the outside corner spots will go a long way in how far the team gets this season."

Upon further review: McCarthy believed that now that Shields is a core player that the well-paid cornerback will "step up and play accordingly." While Shields had a fine 2014 season, he didn't play like one of the 10 best cornerbacks in the NFL. His new salary made among the 10 highest-paid cornerbacks in the league. That's the downfall of averaging $9.75 million per season. Expectations are raised to a level that some players will struggle to reach.

Shields had his second interception of the season Week 6 in Miami, a game in which he was clearly excited to be back playing in his college town. Though Shields exited that game early with a knee injury, it was still him performing to his maximum ability when he was out there.

Shields' value to Green Bay's defense was perhaps best displayed when he missed the Week 8 game at New Orleans. With Shields and Morgan Burnett out against Drew Brees and the Saints, the Packers' secondary got lit up. New Orleans had touchdown passes of 50, 45 and 22 yards. Would that still have happened if Shields was on the field? We'll never know, but the argument could easily be made that Shields' absence was clearly a big difference in the game.

Shields went through a stretch from Weeks 13-15 where he didn't play well. That was most apparent Week 14 against Atlanta when Julio Jones went for 259 yards and led to Shields spending the final 10:38 of the game on the bench. Davon House came in for Shields and used his more physical approach to slow down Jones.
Shields ended the season on a high note, performing very well Week 17 against Detroit and in both playoff games. Facing Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo and Russell Wilson, Shields was credited by ProFootballFocus as allowing a total of only five receptions for 72 yards and no touchdowns.

Overall 2014 grade: B-minus

Status for 2015: One-hundred percent chance of being on the Packers' active roster to begin the 2015 regular season. Shields has three years remaining on his contract and a $9 million cap hit in 2015. But unlike last season, Shields will no longer have Williams or House to support him. Casey Hayward will be asked to step up into a much bigger role, which makes it even more critical for Shields to consistently perform at a high level. It's Shields' show now. He might be asked to cover opposing offense's No. 1 wide receivers on a regular basis, especially while Hayward gets comfortable on the outside. There will only be a few players on Green Bay's roster who will be more important to the Packers' success in 2015 than Shields.

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Sam Shields: Dez Bryant made 'helluva catch'

The cornerback who defended Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on the controversial incomplete pass in the NFC Divisional Playoff game says he believes that Bryant made the catch.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields was in coverage on Bryant during the fourth-and-two play with four minutes remaining the game.

"It was a catch," Shields said to  "But the new rule and at the last minute what happened, that’s what the refs came up with. I never said he didn’t catch it. He made a helluva catch I was in great coverage. Like I said, it was good on good and he came up with the catch.”

Bryant seemed to come down with the leaping 31-yard catch from Tony Romo near the sidelines and the official on the spot marked the ball down at the one-yard line.

Green Bay challenged the pass completion ruling and the play was reversed, with the officials ruling that Bryant did not maintain possession of the ball throughout the catch. The Cowboys gave the ball up on downs and Green Bay went on to win 26-21.

"I did look back and I seen him reaching and I guess that’s when he didn’t control the ball as he was doing that," Shields said.

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Sam Shields to replace Darrelle Revis in Pro Bowl

Packers defensive back Sam Shields will replace Patriots defensive back Darrelle Revis in the Pro Bowl Sunday. Revis cannot participate as he and the Patriots prepare for the Super Bowl next week.

Shields totaled 40 tackles in 2014 with two interceptions. He also defended nine passes for Green Bay during the regular season.

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Sam Shields: ‘The refs made a good call’

GREEN BAY—Sam Shields had solid coverage, and Dez Bryant made a remarkable play.

Those facts will never be in dispute, but whether or not Bryant’s leaping 31-yard catch down to the 1-yard line on fourth down with just over four minutes left should have been overturned will be a subject of debate for a long, long time.

After the Packers challenged the reception, replays showed the ball hitting the ground as Bryant reached it out toward the goal line. According to the rule regarding players going to the ground during a reception, they “must maintain possession of that football throughout the entire process of the catch,” referee Gene Steratore said in the official pool report.

In conjunction with the replay office in New York, Steratore ruled the pass incomplete. Instead of the Cowboys being less than a yard from a go-ahead TD, the Packers got the ball back with 4:06 left and never let Dallas get it again.

“I don’t think it was complete,” Shields said. “The refs made a good call on that. Things go down like that. It’s part of football.”

Shields confessed that, without seeing the replay, he thought Bryant caught it, but he said fellow cornerback Casey Hayward was the first on the field to see the ball jostled as it hit the ground.

“He hauled tail to the sideline to tell the coach he didn’t catch it,” Shields said.

Other teammates were thinking the same thing. It turned out to be the first challenge by Head Coach Mike McCarthy this season that was successful.

“Once you see it on the video board, the first thing that came to my head was the Calvin Johnson rule,” cornerback Tramon Williams said, referring to the controversial ending to the Lions-Bears game in Week 1 of 2010, when Johnson was ruled to not have completed a catch while going to the ground in the end zone on a play that would have won the game for Detroit. “I thought it was clear.

“Same exact thing. The referees made the right call in my book.”

Williams also wasn’t surprised at the Cowboys’ play call there, going for broke despite needing just two yards for the first down.

“When it’s do-or-die, throw to your main guy,” Williams said. “I felt that’s exactly what they were going to do. We sent the guys at (Romo, with a blitz), and we have to hold on in the back end.”

Shields got a hand on the ball as Bryant leaped over him to grab it, and that movement of the ball may have factored into the officials declaring that Bryant never had full control of the ball.

“Sam fought for that ball, got his hands in there,” Williams said. “I think he might have made it move it a little bit. That’s why the play happened the way it did. Game of inches, and we fought for all those inches.”

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Sam Shields admits lack of practice snaps affected him

Green Bay - Packers CB Sam Shields wasn't willing to take most of the blame for the defense's atrocious second-half performance against the Atlanta Falcons Monday night, but he did acknowledge that he wasn't at his best coming off a week of inactivity due to a concussion.

Shields wasn't the only guy who gave up big plays to Falcons WR Julio Jones, who set a record for most receiving yards (259) against the Packers in a single game, but it was clear he was off his game. He gave up one touchdown to Jones and almost another, save for a foot out of bounds, and was pulled from the game in the fourth quarter.

The coaches decided to play Shields despite the fact the only practice he had was some light work on Sunday after being cleared through the NFL's concussion protocol. He said he was cleared to play either Friday or Saturday.

The Packers never reported whether Shields practiced on Sunday, but he said that he had "just a little jog. Nothing major. Mostly rest. Mental reps, rest, things like that."

Now looking back, he admitted not getting any practice time hurt his play. But he said he was back practicing in full Wednesday and he was not on the injury report.
"I needed a couple reps," he said. "That probably would’ve helped out. It happens. I was in there, I got back on the field (and) that was the most important part. I’m getting reps this week and I’ll be ready for Buffalo.

Shields said he wasn't trying to be a "hero" by playing Monday night.

"I don't think I had a bad game or anything like that," he said. "I think it was solid for the reps I did get. One ball over the top that he caught out of bounds that was supposed to be a touchdown. That was my fault. (Stuff) happens. It's football. He's a great receiver. He's in the NFL, too."

There were plenty of players at fault for Jones' huge day.

Cornerback Tramon Williams got beat on a double move and S Morgan Burnett took a terrible angle on Jones' 79-yard reception to start the second half. Shields chased Jones down from the other side of the field and kept him from scoring.

Shields got spun around on another ball down the middle of the field that resulted in a 23-yard gain in the second quarter, but LB Clay Matthews and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix didn't get enough depth on their coverage to take away the middle and contributed to the completion also. On a 30-yard pass down the middle at the end of the first half, CB Casey Hayward and LB Brad Jones were out of position.

"They did a hell of a job," Shields said. "The quarterback and receiver found the open spots, getting their first downs and explosive yards. That's what we can't have this week and continuing (on). That's what happened. Things are going to happen like that. You have to come back next week."

Shields said he did not take his removal from the game after White's fourth-quarter touchdown as a benching. The company line has been that the coaches were being cautious with Shields and coming off that series they decided to go with House.

But until that point, Shields had played the whole game, so it wasn't like they were rotating during the first three quarters.

"They felt that it was right," Shields said. "They kept House in, it's just everybody being a team. That's all it's about. It was House's turn to get up, that's an opportunity for him. He made a couple of great plays, and that's what we need.

"When one person goes down, another person picks it up. That's what happened."

Shields admitted it was frustrating to be taken out.

"There was a lot going through my head," he said. "It was frustration. You don’t want to be on the sideline. Coach made the decision. He made a good decision, put House in there. House made some great plays. I’ll be ready for Buffalo."

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Sam Shields not practicing Thursday with concussion

Packers cornerback Sam Shields is not practicing Thursday as a part of the NFL concussion protocol.

Shields, who has 30 tackles and two interceptions, was knocked out of the Packers Week 13 game against the Patriots.

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Sam Shields going through concussion protocol

Packers cornerback Sam Shields, who left Sunday's game with a concussion, is going through the concussion protocol, coach Mike McCarthy said.

Shields has 30 total tackles and two interceptions this season.

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Sam Shields: '100 percent' back from bizarre knee injury

GREEN BAY – Sam Shields is back to 100 percent, but the Green Bay Packers cornerback still isn’t quite sure what happened inside his left knee that caused damage to his patellar tendon.

In fact, he may never know.

Shields injured his knee during the Packers’ Oct. 12 victory at Miami, a game in which Shields had a first-half interception. But something felt strange in his knee before the second half started, and suddenly, he was lying on the turf before the Dolphins’ second drive of the third quarter even began. The injury caused Shields to miss the Packers’ Oct. 19 win over Carolina and their Oct. 26 pre-bye loss at New Orleans.

“I was coming out of halftime, and I did my usual warmup. Went out there, felt a pinch in my knee. I was like, this doesn’t feel right,” Shields recalled in the Packers’ locker room Thursday afternoon, when he pronounced himself ready to go for Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. “I tried to take off again, and it was still there.”

Shields played through the awkward feeling on the opening series, but as he trotted out to his spot for Miami’s next possession and he felt the pinching in his knee again, he realized there might be something seriously wrong. After considering playing through it, he decided the smarter move was to go down before the Dolphins snapped the ball.

“I thought about that in that quick second. Like, ‘[Expletive] it.’ And then I said, ‘Nah,’” Shields said. “So I just went down.”

As odd as his knee felt that day, Shields says it now feels perfectly normal. The official diagnosis he received was of a strained patellar tendon, he said.

“I’m feeling goooood. No pain, no nothing,” he said. “It’s a good thing it wasn’t serious, like a surgery injury. It was good with the bye. That helped me a lot. Even before the bye, it was getting better.”

Shields worked out before the loss to the Saints, a game for which he was listed as doubtful. Had the Packers played last week, he might have been able to go.

“I was getting there. I just went out there pregame, got a little warmup, see where I was. And I actually felt good that day,” Shields said. “Going into the bye, they tested me and I ran good, and coming off getting that more rest, it definitely felt good. And now I feel really good.”

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Sam Shields still sitting out

Packers starting cornerback Sam Shields, who missed the Week 7 win over Carolina with an ankle injury, did not practice Wednesday as the team prepared for Sunday night's visit to New Orleans. Shields has 14 tackles and two interceptions in six games.

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Sam Shields' strained patellar tendon 'feeling better,' but timeline unclear

GREEN BAY – Sam Shields’ injured left knee is improving, but the Green Bay Packers starting cornerback won’t know when he will be able to play again until he tests his knee by running on it.

Shields said Monday that he suffered a strained patellar tendon when he went down while backpedaling to his pre-snap position before a play against Miami on Oct. 12. The bizarre injury caused him to miss Sunday’s 38-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field.

Whether Shields could return for next Sunday night’s game at New Orleans depends on if he’s able to test the knee this week and can run pain-free on it – something he didn’t sound overly optimistic about.

“I’m feeling better. As far as time, I don’t know right now because I haven’t ran,” Shields said Monday. “But the pain is slowly going away, so that’s good.”
Shields, who missed six games in 2012 with an ankle injury and two games last season with a hamstring injury, said he would make himself available for interviews again on Thursday with the hope of progressing by then.

With Shields out, Davon House started in his place and allowed only one 5-yard reception. House also had a pass breakup on which he suffered a dislocated right ring finger

“I think I did my job,” House said. “It was a solid game. No impact plays, though. Guarding a really good receiver in (Kelvin) Benjamin, I did my job, so that was a good job, but in my mind, if I was to get a pick, to me that’s an impact play. But to the coaches, they might’ve thought I did awesome because their best receiver didn’t have any catches on me.”

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Sam Shields: Injury Not Considered Serious

The knee injury Shields suffered in Sunday's game is not believed to be serious, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

The full extent of Shields' injury is uncertain, and he could miss this week's game against the Panthers, but head coach Mike McCarthy said he isn't concerned about Shields missing an extended period of time. Shields' participation, or lack thereof, during practice this week will likely determine whether or not he suits up for Week 7.

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Sam Shields believes he avoided major knee injury

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Green Bay Packers' 27-24 victory Sunday over the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium:

Nothing torn: Cornerback Sam Shields limped out of the Packers' locker room in pain but was relieved that the initial diagnosis on his left knee is that nothing was torn. The weird thing about Shields' injury was how it happened. He was lining up in coverage when he went down before the first snap of the Dolphins' final drive of the third quarter. "It just gave out," Shields said. "I felt like a little pinch. They say nothing's torn, but it hurts." Two plays later, the Packers lost their other starting cornerback, Tramon Williams, to an ankle injury. So the Packers finished the game with Casey Hayward and Davon House as their top two cornerbacks and Jarrett Bush as their nickelback. Coach Mike McCarthy had no updates on their injuries or the neck injury that Jamari Lattimore sustained in the first half. Shields was expected to undergo more tests Monday.

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Sam Shields' Mom Honored On Rachel Ray

A Packers mom is going to be honored by a TV star Thursday for her work in the community.

Mimi Shields of Sarasota Florida, the mother of Packers cornerback Sam Shields, will be featured on Rachael Ray for her love of giving back.

Mimi says she goes to the store and garage sales, picks up items, fixes them if need be, then delivers them.

“My passion is giving back to the community. I’ve been doing this over 15 years. If you can wear them, your welcome to them man. I can’t say no to people. That’s what I do and I love doin’ it,” said Mimi.

Sam Shields is very proud of his mom and is happy she is getting recognition for her work.

“Its just a great cause for our community and my mom gets the opportunity to show how she treats the community and things like that,” said Sam.

You can watch Rachel Ray on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. on FOX 11.

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Sam Shields contributes pick to Packers win

Packers cornerback Sam Shields was the hero of the secondary Sunday against the archrival Bears. He snagged an interception and ran 62 yards with it to help his team win.

Shields led Green Bay with three passes defensed and added three tackles.

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Sam Shields planning to challenge 'Megatron' Calvin Johnson

Green Bay — Leaning against a table inside the Green Bay Packers locker room, Sam Shields stirs a bowl of chili. He takes a bite. He's in a very chill state of mind.

Relaxed, confident, this cornerback gets the stakes.

When the Green Bay Packers decided to pay premium dollar to keep him — $39 million over four years — this is the kind of matchup they had in mind. Calvin Johnson at Ford Field.

"Oh yeah, most definitely," Shields said. "Any game, they want to see that. So I'm going to give them what they want."

Will Johnson be alone on Shields Island all day? Hardly. Players say whoever's on "Megatron" will get help through Sunday's NFC North opener. But much like last year's meeting in Detroit, odds are it'll be the 5-foot-11, 184-pound Shields shadowing Johnson most often.

Sunday is an opportunity to justify the decision general manager Ted Thompson made in March.

Shields lauds Johnson as "a big target," a "beast." However, to him, he is not some immortal robot who cannot be stopped, as the moniker suggests.

"He can be stopped," Shields said. "You have to go in there with that mind-set that 'I'm here.'"

Shields' career arc has led to this challenge. As an undrafted rookie in 2010, as the cornerback struggling to tackle in 2011, he wasn't ready for the 6-foot-5, 236-pounder. Tramon Williams guarded Johnson, often with a safety cheating his way. In 12 games against Green Bay, Johnson has erupted for 71 receptions, 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns. It's always relative. He only won two of those games, one with Aaron Rodgers on the field (for a half in 2010).
A year ago, a contract year, Shields got his shot. The Packers were embarrassed, 40-10, but Shields earned points at the negotiating table. Outside of three slant passes underneath for 46 yards, he battled. On one deep throw, he wrestled the ball away from Johnson for an interception.

There's a chance defensive coordinator Dom Capers could throw a Davon House-sized wrench into the Lions' plans. Possibly House's physicality is worth a look.

Shields, however, sounds like a player ready for the showdown. If it were up to him, he'd cover Johnson one on one all game, no help.

"There are going to be some one-on-one situations," Shields said. "Sometimes, there will be the other situation. Whatever the coach wants to do, I'm willing to go for it.

"He's a guy who's going to catch balls because he's a great receiver. It's just me going in with that mind-set that, 'Hey, he can't catch the ball.' Go in there with a DB mind-set — we're going to go at one-on-one."

Against Johnson, Shields continued, you must eliminate yards after the catch. He cannot gain a head of steam.

And against Shields, Johnson knows he's facing a cornerback who'll play the ball, citing the fact that Shields was initially a wide receiver at Miami. In four seasons, Shields has 13 interceptions and 46 pass break-ups.

"He is pretty sticky in coverage," Johnson said, "and he has good ball skills, so that's a good thing for a corner."

It's been an up-and-down start for Shields. At Seattle, he broke beautifully on a Russell Wilson pass that inside linebacker Brad Jones should have intercepted. Against New York, he was burned not so beautifully on a double move by Eric Decker for a 29-yard touchdown.

Complicating matters for Green Bay this week is the fact that the Lions' passing game is no longer a monopoly.

Golden Tate was signed to a five-year, $31 million contract to be everything the combustible Titus Young was not. Tight end Eric Ebron was drafted 10th overall. The names Reggie Bush and Joique Bell come up a lot in the Green Bay locker room. Coach Jim Caldwell said these additions all "tip the scales" to keep double-coverage off of Johnson. Then again, when the New York Giants single-covered Johnson, he went off for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

Even though it'd help if one cornerback could track Johnson much of the day, that's probably an unrealistic proposition.

"No, I don't think we'll necessarily put it on one guy to take care of Calvin Johnson," safety Micah Hyde said. "We're all out there helping each other. You have to know where he is. If you're on him, you have to know where the help is. There's a lot that goes into it. We're trying to simplify it as much as possible.

"A huge weapon, a great receiver, you just have to have a lot of respect for him."

You'll just see No. 37 and No. 81 in the same vicinity very often.

How far has Sam Shields come? The Packers are about to find out.

During the summer, Shields brushed off this whole NFL emphasis on illegal contact. Wouldn't affect his game, he said. His game is based on speed, footwork, timing — not hand-to-hand combat.

Ten years ago, cornerbacks might have been able to knock Johnson off the top of his route. Commissioner Roger Goodell and Co. put the kibosh on that.

Now, the Packers are hoping Shields (with help, of course) is the answer.

They paid him accordingly.

"I'm working on it day by day," Shields said. "It's getting better. Me as a DB, I'm still learning. I'm getting better at it. Throughout the year, it'll come."

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Despite new deal, Sam Shields looks to stay grounded

Green Bay — The financials had finally been agreed upon. The ink on Sam Shields' new four-year, $39 million contract had barely dried.

And Shields made a beeline for his Realtor.

The house his parents — Sam Jr. and Michelle — lived in was certainly serviceable. It was the house where Shields was raised in Sarasota, Fla.

But as Shields put it: "The house was getting old."

So Shields bought his parents — who have been together since junior high school — something nicer. Same town, different digs.

"It's a nice two-story house, nothing fancy," Shields said. "That was my goal, especially for my Mom, to get her something new."

After that, Shields was done spending.

No indulgences for himself. No splurging on anyone else.

You see, Shields — the Packers' fastest player, but an undrafted free agent back in 2010 — reached this point through hard work and by bucking the odds. Now, even though Shields is one of the NFL's highest paid cornerbacks, he wants everything in his life to remain the same — or as close to it as possible.

"If you just go and do the same thing you've been doing, staying humble, staying the person like you've been and keep making plays, doing what you're supposed to do, things will work out," Shields said. "I don't want anything to change, really. I don't want it to be different, even though the money is different."

Tramon Williams can certainly relate.

Williams himself went undrafted in 2006, then traveled a long and bumpy path to NFL stardom. Williams was eventually given a four-year, $41.25 million contract extension that ends after this season.

Despite the big money, Williams did all he could to keep his life as similar as possible.

"From my standpoint, when I went through it all, I don't think anything really changed much, and that was a good thing," Williams said. "All of my friends, all of my relatives, everyone close to me, everyone's doing stuff for themselves so it was never to that point with me where I had to worry about outsiders.

"If you're asking me can he still live the same way he has? Yes he can."

That would bode well for the Packers, who have watched Shields go from a training camp long shot in 2010 to their fifth-highest-paid player today.

There are obviously more zeros on Shields' paycheck these days than there were four summers ago. But the 26-year-old Shields is doing all he can to stay as humble and grounded as the player who surprised many by simply making the roster back in 2010.

"Those were nervous times," Shields said. "I was really nervous, but I just kept faith. Just kept going, doing what I was supposed to do, making plays.

"That's the main thing coaches want to see is guys making plays, making things stand out. That was my whole focus that year, just making something stand out to the coaches. I did that in the preseason games that year and just kept the faith. They made a good decision and, hey, it worked out good."

It sure has.

Shields made six starts as Green Bay's nickelback his rookie year and played in 14 games altogether. Then in the NFC championship game, Shields had two interceptions, a sack and forced a fumble.

Shields took a step back in 2011, struggling with tackling and allowing 4½ touchdown passes. The former wide receiver at the University of Miami was clearly at a crossroads in his young career.

But Shields responded in a big way.

In 2012, Shields missed six games with an ankle injury, yet still finished second on the team with five interceptions. Shields' tackling improved dramatically, and he allowed just 2½ touchdown passes after giving up nine total during his first two seasons.

Then a year ago, the Packers felt comfortable enough with Shields to have him shadow standout wide receivers such as Detroit's Calvin Johnson. Shields also had a memorable interception in Dallas that might have saved Green Bay's season.

He finished the year with four interceptions, 16 passes defensed and 61 tackles. Shields still cheats too much, and gets caught peeking in the backfield. But his remarkable closing speed bails him out of trouble others could never escape.

"It's been a long road getting here, definitely tough," said Shields, who has three children back in Sarasota. "But I stuck through it, definitely fought and never gave up. There were some bumpy roads, but I got through those bumpy roads. Just never gave up and kept going."

Now, as Shields goes into his fifth season, he'll be counted on more than ever.

Today, Shields is the NFL's eighth-highest paid cornerback. And Green Bay needs him to play to that level.

The Packers ranked 24th in passing defense last year and 25th in total defense. Shields is one of the building blocks Green Bay is counting on to reverse those numbers.

"He's definitely a guy we're counting on for great things," Williams said. "He's still a young guy who's only going to get better. That's exciting for everyone."

Shields would prefer things don't change outside football. And perhaps they won't.

On the field, though, Shields knows he still has room to grow. And if positive changes keep coming, there's no telling what the future might bring.

"I think I've got a lot of great football in front of me," he said. "But I just need to be smart and do things the way I've always done them."

"Make sure I don't get in trouble in the off-season, just staying clean all the way around. If I keep doing that, keep making plays and helping this team win, everything will be fine."

Which would be music to the Packers' ears.

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Sam Shields wants to play at higher level

Green Bay — This one play defined Sam Shields' 2013 season and, really, his career.

He was beat. The goat. Wide receiver Miles Austin had a step on the Green Bay Packers cornerback with nothing but green acreage and a key NFC win ahead. Shields closed, picked off Tony Romo and the Packers completed the comeback.

So it begs a financial question: If Shields does surrender that touchdown, if the Packers do lose that game, does he get every penny of that four-year, $39 million deal that came three months later?

"I don't know about that," Shields says, smiling. "Luckily, it didn't happen. Because they would have got a first down and all that bad stuff would have happened. I made a play, something to help us win and that's what we needed."

He made the play and got paid. Now, the Packers are banking on more.

In a half-decade, Shields has evolved from ex-college wide receiver to undrafted postseason hero to the 2011 scapegoat of Green Bay's tackling woes to maturing into one of the league's top cover corners. The challenge is sustaining this all after cashing in — staying hungry.

After his best season as a pro — 61 tackles, 16 pass breakups and four interceptions in 14 games — containing Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Greg Jennings and rising Cordarrelle Patterson in the NFC North starts with Shields.

"I'll just keep playing how I've been playing," Shields said. "Everybody says that's something on me. I just let that go and keep playing how I've been playing."
Through the contract. And through what may be a new age in the NFL.

Ed Hochuli and his officiating crew littered Ray Nitschke Field with laundry on their Green Bay camp stop, making it clear that the league is cracking down even harder on illegal contact. That could mean trouble for pro cornerbacks, a position already fighting an uphill battle in this ratings-driven, player safety-driven, fantasy football-driven NFL.

Funny thing is, Green Bay's cornerbacks didn't change a thing. They stayed aggressive and Shields isn't flinching.

One reason he's not too concerned is his game isn't based on clutching and grabbing at the line. He relies on speed.

"Like I tell the guys in there, don't think about it. Just play," Shields said. "Play how you've been playing. Don't change up anything because that'll mess you up. You can't really focus on what they're going to change.

"My speed helps me out a lot. They say they're going to be tough on it but I don't get into it. Just keep playing what you've been doing."

Shields points to the undrafted fire (still) burning inside. He carries that with him to this day, remembering that he was once a needle in the camp-roster haystack.

Teammate Davon House brought up a recent conversation he had with Shields. The two discussed "playing forever." Greatness. He doesn't see Shields' getting complacent.

"He still has the mentality of being a free agent," House said. "With his talent, his mind-set, he wants to be the best in the league."

House points out that Shields is "still raw," too. He was predominately an offensive player his entire life, right up to that final year at Miami (Fla.) in 2009.

In a league full of shutdown cornerbacks, House can't think of another player with the 0-to-60 closing speed to make the play Shields did at Dallas.

"Some of the things he does, you can't really explain," House said. "He's truly blessed."

Shields is years removed from the hapless tackling efforts in 2011. Just watch one drill with position coach Joe Whitt Jr.

The next step for him is understanding what the other 10 players are doing on the field to better position himself for splash plays. He's fast, naturally. Now he wants to play fast, mentally. Veteran Tramon Williams helps with this.

"He's been in the league a long time," Shields said, "as far as seeing different things, as far as formations, route recognition. That comes in the film room, watching film, studying other guys, other receivers. Talking to him, it's been real helpful."

Life sure has changed since he signed that mega-deal and became the NFL's eighth-highest paid cornerback.

Suddenly, Shields has many more, ahem, "family" members.

"Not so much my teammates," Shields said. "They clown a lot as far as who has the most money. But family members change. They ask you for this. That's the biggest thing. You get a lot more calls."

And that cellphone will keep ringing, too. For four more years. Along the way, the Packers need Shields to keep ascending as a player.

impact fact
Last season was Shields' best as a pro, with 61 tackles, 16 pass breakups and four interceptions in 14 games.

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Sam Shields cracks top 100 defensive player list

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields broke in to the top 100 on ESPN's #NFLRank project, but just barely.

It remains to be seen how many cornerbacks will check in higher than Shields as the rest of the list is unveiled over the next two weeks. The fifth-year cornerback was No. 95 on the list of top defensive players in the league as polled by 85 ESPN NFL contributors, including all 32 NFL Nation reporters.

But the four-year, $39 million contract he signed as a free agent in March suggests the Packers expect him to be even better than that.

Based on average per year, Shields' $9.75 million pay ranks tied for sixth among all NFL cornerbacks behind Darrelle Revis ($16 million), Richard Sherman ($14 million), Patrick Peterson ($14.01 million), Joe Haden ($13.5 million) and Brandon Carr ($10.02 million).

According to ESPN Stats & Information, since Shields' rookie season of 2010, no player has more postseason interceptions than he does (four).

This is the second year of this ESPN project, and Shields did not make the top 100 last year. Over the next two weeks, the list of players will be revealed 10 at a time. The Packers did not have any players in the 91-100 category on the offensive side of the ball.

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Sam Shields proves free agents can succeed

GREEN BAY — Every undrafted free agent who has set foot in Lambeau Field wants his story to unfold like Sam Shields.

You make the Green Bay Packers’ roster, slowly develop into a reliable starter and are rewarded with a four-year, $39 million contract once you hit the free-agent market.

If only it was that simple.

Nothing about being an undrafted free agent is easy. Even if you make the opening roster, you still have to fight to stay there. It takes talent, hard work and a touch of luck to make that happen.

Of the 14 undrafted rookies who have made the Packers’ initial 53-man roster during Mike McCarthy’s first seven years as head coach, half didn’t last more than one season in Green Bay.

Center Evan Dietrich-Smith, perhaps the team’s greatest success story outside of Shields, was even cut after one season only to be re-signed later that year.
That’s why Shields gives every rookie he encounters a similar message: Nothing is given. You work hard to make the roster. If you survive, you work harder to stay there.

“I see guys who get cut and it’s not pretty,” said the 26-year-old cornerback, reflecting on his first NFL season. “My whole mindset was making this team whether it’s special teams or however — just get on this team.”

Over the next three weeks, you’ll hear about another class of undrafted rookies making a bid for the 53-man roster. South Carolina State linebacker Joe Thomas has flashed early. Colorado State-Pueblo defensive lineman Mike Pennel has made his presence felt against the run.

Meanwhile, second-year players such as outside linebacker Andy Mulumba, offensive lineman Lane Taylor and safety Chris Banjo are trying to hold onto their spots. The same goes for receiver Myles White and tight end Jake Stoneburner, who started last season on the practice squad before being promoted.
Nobody wants to go backward, especially Mulumba, who saw the most work of last year’s undrafted class in 2013. He played nearly 300 defensive snaps in place of an injured Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, and finished with 30 tackles and a sack in 14 games.

He spent the winter at his alma mater, Eastern Michigan, rehabbing a sprained knee he suffered in the Packers’ 23-20 playoff loss to San Francisco, which he played through due to a lack of healthy outside rushers.

People remember him being fooled by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on an 11-yard run on third-and-8 late in the loss, but what you didn’t see was the six weeks Mulumba spent with his knee in a brace afterward.

“You have to put everything on the line,” Mulumba said. “I knew my knee was bad, but I said why not give it another shot if we can win and go to the other round? I just told them put some tape on it and put me back on the field, and then we’ll see what happens. I went out there trying to give it my 100 percent, but couldn’t get to 100 percent.”

Mulumba returned for the offseason program healthy and hungry to maintain his spot in a now-cluttered group of outside linebackers, which now includes veteran Julius Peppers and fourth-round pick Carl Bradford.

Outside linebacker (five) and offensive line (four) have produced the most undrafted rookies on the Packers’ opening roster since 2006, but there’s been a lot of turnover, too.

Vic So’oto (2011) and Dezman Moses (2013) both went one-and-done with the Packers. Frank Zombo lasted three seasons, but was non-tendered when he reached restricted free agency after the 2012 season.

Only Jamari Lattimore was offered a second contract, but he’s since shifted to inside linebacker.

Under general manager Ted Thompson, the Packers have tied for the third-most undrafted free agents on their Week 1 roster since 2010 with 13. At least three undrafted rookies have made the Packers’ roster in each of those seasons.

The Packers will give you opportunity, but they’ll also provide plenty of competition for your job going forward.

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2014 Most Important Packers No. 8: Sam Shields

GREEN BAY – If you do the math that comes with Joe Whitt’s projections about Sam Shields, it computes to this: The Green Bay Packers’ fifth-year cornerback is going to be really good for a really long time.

The way Whitt sees it, Shields, who won’t turn 27 until December and returned to the Packers in March on a four-year, $39 million deal that will pay him $15 million this year alone, is still improving at a position that he didn’t even play until his final season at the University of Miami (Fla). That’s why the Packers cornerbacks coach is confidently predicting a lengthy run of quality play – because the Packers are already getting it from Shields and he’s still not tapped out.

“Sam’s best football is still in front of him,” Whitt explained. “I honestly believe he has two more years of ascending and then he’s going to play at that level for another four years. That’s six years of just really good football ahead of him.

“He might have more. I don’t know what he’s going to have after that, but I see two more years of getting better and four more of holding that type of high quality play.

“When Sam walked into the room four years ago in 2010, he was the ninth guy (on the depth chart) and he ended up starting against [the Philadelphia Eagles] in the very first game (as the No. 3 cornerback in the nickel defense). If you work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are. If you work hard and you show that you’re the guy that can make plays, you’ll be given an opportunity.”

And no one has seized his opportunity more than Shields, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent, was a vital contributor as the third cornerback in the nickel package on the Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl XLV team and now has a chance to be in the conversation with the best cover men in the league if he plays at the level his coaches believe he can.

“It’s like I tell everybody, it’s just the beginning,” Shields said. “I still sit back and think about what I went through when I first started, when I switched to D. I sit and talked to my friends and family about it. It still amazes me, like ‘Hey, I’m in this position.’ It’s all a blessing.”

Shields is now the Packers’ third-highest paid player in terms of average annual salary, as his $9.25 million average ranks only behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($18.7 million) and outside linebacker Clay Matthews ($11.6 million), who received lucrative long-term extensions in April 2013. Given his lofty status, he’ll be looked upon to be a shutdown corner, even though veteran Tramon Williams is coming off a bounceback season and appears to have plenty left in the tank, and the coaches are excited about the healthy return of Casey Hayward, who finished third in the NFL defensive rookie of the year balloting in 2012.

“Everybody knows [Shields is] a press (coverage) guy who can make plays in that area. Now, we need to show he’s a complete player – zone, two, three; understands landmarks and drops; and improve the tackling aspect of it,” Whitt said. “He needs to be a top level corner in every aspect of the game. And he has that ability.”

In 14 regular-season games last year, Shields had a team-high four interceptions and was credited in the Packers’ official stats with 64 tackles and 25 pass breakups. According to Pro Football Focus, in 900 total snaps, Shields was targeted 84 times last season and allowed 42 completions for 664 yards for an opponents’ passer rating of 72.7.

He missed two games in the middle of the season with a hamstring injury but had what turned out to be one of the biggest plays of the season, an interception that helped the Packers to an enormous come-from-behind victory at Dallas on Dec. 15. His season ended with a high-ankle sprain in the playoff loss to San Francisco that he said would have kept him out for the rest of the year, even if the Packers had won that game.

Now, he’s ready for a greater impact as he matures as a player and has a better grasp on the game.

“There’s a lot more things I’m still learning. And it’s getting better,” Shields said. “I’m getting some more years on me, some more time to learn different things. It’s getting better.

“You know, when I first got here, I didn’t know the difference. It was frustrating. ‘Man, it’s not for me.’ [But] I stuck in there, I kept working. I got it right.”

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Most Important Packers No. 12: Sam Shields

26 / Fifth NFL season

Head coach Mike McCarthy didn't attempt to sugarcoat what the new contract meant for Sam Shields. When the Green Bay Packers signed Shields to a four-year, $39 million deal this offseason, it made him one of the team's "core players," according to McCarthy, who added: "He'll step up and play accordingly."

Aaron Rodgers is currently a long-term core player for the Packers. So are Clay Matthews, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang and Morgan Burnett, all of whom have signed big-money extensions with Green Bay in recent years. While very few people would question that the money has been worth it for players like Rodgers and Sitton (who are arguably the best at their respective positions in the NFL), Burnett has been widely criticized for not playing well in Year 1 of his five-year, $26 million contract.

While the amount given to Shields was more than most expected, it's difficult to argue that he didn't earn it. Shields quickly rose from an undrafted free agent to a starter in the Packers defense, and after four years in Green Bay, he's become one of the team's most important defensive players. In 2013, he tied his career-high with four interceptions and set a career-high with 61 tackles while starting 14 games.

Shields is No. 12 on this list because he can't take a step back now that he's a very wealthy man. The Packers need him to at least be as good as he's been in recent years, though the team would clearly love it if he continued improving. Green Bay has good depth at cornerback, but the importance of Shields locking down one of the outside corner spots will go a long way in how far the team gets this season.

McCarthy didn't sugarcoat it, so there's no reason that anyone else should: expectations for Shields are now very high. More money, more responsibility. Core players need to have an obvious positive effect in the win-loss column, which is what Shields must do in 2014.

Shields will often find himself matched up with opposing teams' best wide receivers, and he'll have to deliver. That means two games staring across from Detroit's Calvin Johnson and two games worrying about Chicago's dangerous duo, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Shields isn't in the clear for the other 12 games of the season either, especially not with critical NFC opponents like Seattle, New Orleans, Carolina and Philadelphia on the schedule.
Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt believes that Shields still has a lot of room to get better. A contract the size that Shields got this offseason suggests the Packers' front office very much agrees with Whitt on that. At only 26 years old, and given that Shields has only been playing cornerback for five years, his potential is as great as any players on Green Bay's defense.


Shields would be even higher on this list if it wasn't for the Packers' impressive depth at cornerback. He has veteran Tramon Williams opposite him, which helps in many ways. For one, if Shields struggles against Johnson, Marshall or any other top wide receiver, Green Bay knows Williams has the tools to get the job done. Williams has seen it all, and an in-game or mid-season change in plans wouldn't be too much to handle for him. Williams can also continue teaching Shields the finer points of the game, little things that a ninth-year player like himself can still show to a fifth-year player.

Casey Hayward will eventually be a starting outside cornerback for the Packers, likely in 2015 once Williams' contract expires. Hayward dominated competition in the slot as a rookie, but hamstring injuries took away his ability to follow it up last season. But just because he was primarily a slot player shouldn't overshadow that Hayward projects to be a very good outside cornerback. Whether it's on the opposite side of Shields or it's stepping in for Shields should an injury occur, Hayward seems ready for a big role sooner than later.

Davon House didn't have the Year 3 jump that some expected, but he's still a viable option at outside cornerback. Micah Hyde is not part of the equation at outside corner, nor is Jarrett Bush. However, rookie cornerback Demetri Goodson will get a shot to earn snaps outside, though a challenge from him is likely not going to matter much to Shields at the top of the depth chart.

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Sam Shields secures future in Green Bay with four-year deal

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Cornerback Sam Shields' position coach nearly cried when he let him know he had re-signed with the Packers. Shields' mother bawled when she learned of the deal, and he bought her a house.

Signing a four-year, $39 million deal with a $12.5 million signing bonus can be a life-changing event, especially for a fifth-year undrafted cornerback who didn't move to defense until his last year in college.

Now it's time for Shields to assume the pressure that comes with a big deal.

"The reality of it is Sam is now looked on as one of our core players," coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday. "So he'll step up and play accordingly."
Shields didn't cry after agreeing to the contract in March.

"I promise I didn't," he said after a team workout. "It's still ... it's like 'Dang, wow.' But I didn't."

Shields seems to be handling the attention well. He said he feels no extra pressure with the contract, and that he's confident that his best years are ahead of him.

Just the kind of attitude that McCarthy would like to hear as Green Bay tries to improve its defense. The return of Shields gives the Packers stability at corner, with veteran Tramon Williams manning the other side.

Shields, who has 13 interceptions in four years with the Packers including four last year, said he is still learning. Imagine if Shields had played corner his whole career. After making 75 catches for 971 yards and seven touchdowns in his first three seasons of college ball at Miami, Shields was asked to move to corner after the spring game before his senior year. Shields played defensive back in that game, and an assistant coach liked what he saw.

His family encouraged him to try it, and Shields went on to start 10 games at corner. In April 2010, the Packers signed him as an undrafted free agent.

There were some discouraging moments in the beginning. He would argue with cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt about learning the plays.

"When I first got here, I didn't know the difference. It was frustrating. 'Man, it's not for me,'" Shields recounted.

But Whitt stuck to it, even making little cards to help Shields study the defense. Shields gives Whitt the most credit for his development and his prized pupil is now returning to Lambeau Field with a new deal.

"Sam Shields has earned this opportunity. I think he'll handle himself and clearly understands the level of success ... the step that he's taken," McCarthy said. "But frankly, we all know there's so much more out there that we want to accomplish."

Losing Shields could have meant that Casey Hayward, who missed most of last season with a hamstring injury, would be moved into the starting job; or Micah Hyde, who had a promising 2013 season after being drafted in the fourth round a year ago.

Instead, Hyde is now getting looks at safety, along with 2014 first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Shields' good friend, veteran Morgan Burnett, signed a big free agent contract last year, and returns at the other safety spot. The Packers are looking for more big plays from their safeties, a position from which the team didn't get an interception in 2013.

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Sam Shields Workout

GREEN BAY—The Packers’ offseason workout program has been going full steam since April 22, with the team’s new weight room and conditioning area in the southeast corner of Lambeau Field becoming a busy place. recently trailed veteran cornerback Sam Shields through his strength and conditioning workout to provide this rundown, and an inside look at a piece of an NFL training regimen.

7:29 a.m. – Shields arrives at the CRIC (conditioning, rehab and instruction center) and begins to loosen his leg, hip and back muscles with a floor roller.

7:34 – A more involved warm-up begins by stepping over and ducking under a series of hurdles, going both directions. That’s followed by a series of stretches: leaning and balancing with one foot on an incline, working the shoulder only from a push-up stance, wrapping a band around the ankles and hopping into a squat, and squatting while raising a dumbbell with one hand, each side. The entire circuit is repeated.

7:42 – Heading into the weight room, a set of five power shrugs is done with a 135-pound barbell, followed by a series of neck exercises wearing a baseball batting helmet with a weight plate screwed to the top. This sequence is repeated twice, boosting the subsequent power shrugs to 225 pounds.

7:51 – The next sequence of exercises involves the dumbbell bench press, then balancing the body on an elevated board in a raised push-up position for 30 seconds, and finally rolling a small medicine ball around the pectoral muscles. The series is done three times total, beginning with 12 reps with 75-pound dumbbells, then 10 reps with 80-pounders and eight reps with 85-pounders.

8:01 – Next is a rowing lift, followed by rolling a big medicine ball underneath the back of the shoulders and then stretching the lats and hips by recoiling the body into an explosive pose while hanging onto a heavy strap suspended from an elevated bar. For the rowing part of the sequence, Shields does 12 reps at 230 pound on a high-row machine, then 10 reps at 150 pounds on a low-row machine.

8:12 – In a split stance with one leg elevated, a pair of dumbbells is curled and then pressed above the head, five reps. Then five more reps after switching legs. Finally, a standing row is done, a set with each arm. Weight room work concludes at 8:15 a.m. and a short break is taken before heading to the Don Hutson Center for the running portion of the workout.

8:28 – Warm-ups are done in 20-yard increments, followed by a width-of-the-field sprint.

8:32 – A sequence of exercises starts by running in an S pattern the width of the field, coming to balance on the other side. Leg swings are done along the wall, followed by a short get-up sprint (begun by lying stomach-down on the ground) and then a forward and backward crawl while wearing a resistance harness around the waist. The entire circuit is done four times and is finished at 8:46 a.m.

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Sam Shields, secondary key to improving defense

Joe Whitt doesn’t know the going rate for a top-flight cornerback, nor does he really care.

What concerns the Green Bay Packers cornerbacks coach is what a player can do on the field. Sam Shields is as talented as anyone he’s ever mentored, but how much that ability is worth is for others to decide.

For that reason, Whitt wasn’t sure if he’d get a chance to coach Shields again following the Packers’ 23-20 playoff loss to San Francisco, but he was confident the 26-year-old’s best days were ahead of him.

“I don’t get into any contracts, but I believe Sam is a top-10, top-7 type corner in this league,” Whitt said at the time. “One thing that sticks out with Sam to me is when he has the opportunity to make the interception, make a splash play, he makes it. (In) four years, I think I have him really dropping one ball that I thought that was an intercept-type ball.”

The Packers’ brass agreed, though his return wasn’t always a guarantee. Shields’ camp threatened to cease contract negotiations days before the start of free agency before the two sides finally agreed to a four-year deal worth $39 million that included a $12.5 million signing bonus.

This was the outcome Shields was hoping for, but he also wanted to get paid. He signed for a $7,500 bonus after going undrafted in 2010 and played three years at the league minimum.

Shields’ biggest payday came last June when he signed his one-year restricted tender worth $2 million before the start of mandatory mini-camp. Although he missed most of the offseason program, he continued to grow into the position once training camp started.

He still hasn’t made it through a full season without injury, but managed to reset or match career highs in tackles (61), pass deflections (16) and interceptions (four). A knee injury suffered on the first defensive play of the 49ers’ playoff game could have jeopardized things, but he avoided ligament damage and hit the market at the peak of his powers.

Many of his close friends in the cornerbacks room expected the Packers would bring back Shields. It was just a matter of time. His athleticism and speedicon1 are not things that can be coached, and he’d come a long way since converting from receiver during his senior year at the University of Miami.

“I thought it was pretty important,” ninth-year cornerback Jarrett Bush said. “Sam is young and athletic. He has experience in playoff gamesicon1 and the Super Bowl. I thought he was definitely a huge contributor to our team, so I would’ve been surprised if we didn’t sign him back.”

Shields’ return ensured cornerback would remain the Packers’ deepest defensive group with Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House and Bush all under contract for at least one more season.

There’s also internal optimism for two other speedy undrafted projects, James Nixon and Jumal Rolle.

While the cornerback position still is a strength, there are some long-term questions. Williams and House have one year left on their contracts, Hyde could possibly move to safety this offseason and Hayward is returning from a recurring hamstring strain.

Shields’ $9.75 million average salary came in on the high side for freeicon1 agent cornerbacks this offseason, but it would have been difficult to replace him in the secondary, especially in the short term.

“Sam is one of my good friends on the team, so I’m very excited to have him back,” Hayward said. “He’s one of the young stars on this team and not just the team, but the NFL. Having him back, hopefully he’ll bring a little spark to the team and the defense.”

Shields’ contract could pay as much as $21 million over the first two years. He’ll carry a hefty $12.125 million cap number in 2016 and 2017, but the Packers have options.

Along with shedding Williams’ $8 million salary after this season, the Packers could opt out of Shields’ deal after the 2015 season and assume a large but not crippling $6.25 million cap penalty.

It’s been reported the NFL salary cap could rise as much as $10 million in each of the next two seasons, so that could also be standard compensation for a No. 1 cornerback by that time.

Right now, though, the most important thing for Packers’ cornerbacks is generating more turnovers. Last year’s defense managed only 11 to finish 26th in the category.

Through the good and the bad years during defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ five years in Green Bay, interceptions have been an area in which the Packers have been consistently atop the league.

They’ll need better play from their safeties, who failed to force a single turnover last season, but a healthy Shields, Hayward and Williams could be the play-makers Capers’ defense needs to thrive.

Some worry complacency could set for Shields after agreeing to such a large deal, but those who know Shields best believe he’ll be that much more motivated to carry the defense in the right direction.

“Sam is what makes us go,” Hyde said. “There are a lot of games where he made some huge plays. It’s a competition in there, we all understand that. With Casey coming back, we all know what Casey can do with his rookie year, having a really good season.

“Hopefully we can all get on the field at once, that’s going to be dangerous.”

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What NFL personnel people said about Sam Shields

Green Bay - Here's what three executives in personnel for National Football League teams had to say about cornerback Sam Shields in the last week.

Their comments were made before Shields was resigned by the Green Bay Packers Saturday for what a source said was worth $39 million over four years, or $9.75 million per year.

NFC scout: "He's somewhat of a mystery to me. I think he's played well enough to merit other teams liking him but I also think there's a lot of issues that go into him historically that might cause some to back off. He's a corner so he might get a look. He must think there's a big pot o' gold. There's definitely holes in his game. The board at corner shrunk because (Brent) Grimes signed with Miami. There''s still probably a handful of corners that are better than him."

AFC scout: "Rising starter. Not a No. 1. He's a solid No. 2 starting corner. If you look at some of the corner deals that got done in the past he should feel he should get a complementary contract. The market last year in free agency was depressed at corner. But here's a young player (26) who still actually may be ascending, to a degree, and be a starter for the next five years. Drew (Rosenhaus) usually is pretty good at what he thinks he can get. I wouldn't be surprised if he got somewhere between $7 million and $8 million (per year)."

AFC scout: "He can run and cover with most people. If people are comfortable with his lack of physicalness then he's got a chance to get paid. If you look at him and say, 'OK, this is a cover corner and that's what he's going to be doing, and I'm going to pay him for his coverage skills and not dwell on the lack of tackling,' then he's got a chance to make pretty good money out there. Somebody could ante up, maybe somebody's that familiar with him. I'm not sure how the guys in Oakland feel about him because they could lose a couple of their corners. That ($6.5 million average) is pretty dang good money."

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Sam Shields, Packers strike four-year, $39M contract

Former Green Bay Packers executive Andrew Brandt is fond of saying that "deadlines spur action."

That appears to be the case with the Packers and cornerback Sam Shields. At an impasse last week, Shields was prepared to test the open market.

With free agency just days away, the Packers agreed to re-sign Shields to a new contract, agent Drew Rosenhaus revealed Saturday.

A person who has seen the contract tells NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport the deal is worth $39 million over four years. NFL Media's Albert Breer adds that Shields received a $12.5 million signing bonus and will collect $21 million over the first two years of the pact.

ProFootballTalk first reported the new contract.

The Packers increased their offer considerably, as Rapoport previously reported the team was offering just $6 million annually.

Shields' contract is a sign that free agents -- particularly at cornerback -- are entering a healthier market than last offseason, now that the salary cap has been increased to $133 million.

Ranked No. 20 on Around The League's list of the top 101 free agents, Shields offers sub-4.40 speed and demonstrated the ability to lock down top receivers such as A.J. Green and Josh Gordon.

Count Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman among those who approve of the deal.

“Always happy for a man getting what he deserves! Congrats @ShieldSam37”

With Shields locked up and Casey Hayward returning from injury, the Packers are deep at cornerback. It will be interesting to see if they move impressive 2013 fifth-round draft pick Micah Hyde to safety.

Now that Shields has passed Tramon Williams as the highest-paid player in the Packers' secondary, hotly pursued Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner should have his sights set on a new contract worth more than $10 million annually.

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Sam Shields ready to hit open market

Green Bay - Defensive tackle B.J. Raji and cornerback Sam Shields are set to hit the open market on March 8 and nothing seems to be in the way of them moving on to different pastures.

It's not a complete surprise, but the Packers did not use a franchise or transition tag on either free agent, meaning their best hope for retaining them is to up their offer before free agency starts or have the market prove to them that they can't do any better financially outside of Green Bay.

League sources said that deals for Raji and Shields were unlikely before both gain the right to negotiate with other teams Saturday and only a last-second assessment by the Packers would change that. Officially, free agents can't be signed until March 11, so the Packers have five days of exclusive bargaining rights and three more days of pleading their case.

Players can agree to terms with other teams starting on March 8, but they can't sign a contract until the 11th.

This marks the fourth straight year and the seventh time in nine years under general manager Ted Thompson that the Packers have not used the tag.
It would have cost the Packers $9.654 million to franchise Raji and $11.834 million to franchise Shields. Those numbers account for roughly a third of the $35 million in salary cap room the Packers have going into the new football year.

Under franchise rules, a team would have had to give up two first-round picks to the Packers if it wanted to sign one their franchised free agent. The Packers would have had the right to match the offer also. Under the transition tag, which comes at a price tag of about $1 million less than the franchise for each position, the Packers would have had only the right to match an offer.

Shields' worth became more defined Monday when Miami CB Brent Grimes agreed to a four-year deal that reported was worth $28 million, including $14 million guaranteed. That deal consists of the same structure as the deal Chicago's Tim Jennings signed in January (half of it guaranteed) and helps define the market for both sides.

Shields is likely to get something more in the Grimes range than the Jennings deal (four years, $22.4 million) because he's only 26. But both Grimes and Jennings had better seasons than Shields and while both are 30, they played as though they have several good years left.

It's possible the open market will be better to Shields than expected since it only takes one team to blow it all up with an unnecessarily inflated deal. Teams like Cleveland, Oakland and Jacksonville have money to burn and they might pay a premium to get Shields to come to their team.

Other corners who will be competing for free agent money are: Tennessee's Alterraun Verner, New England's Aqib Talib, Indianapolis' Vontae Davis and Denver's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

The Packers will be counting on Shields getting no more than Grimes, which would put them back in the running for his services. They still have five days of exclusive negotiating rights with Shields and could raise their offer after seeing the Grimes deal.

Here are the mandatory one-year offers the Packers would have had to make if they tagged either Raji or Shields: 

Defensive tackle: $9.654 million 
Cornerback: $11.834 million

Defensive tackle: $8.060 million 
Cornerback: $10.081 million

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Sam Shields Will Test Free Agency

ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news today that the Green Bay Packers and Sam Shields will not be able to come to terms on a new deal prior to the beginning of free agency.

This is good news for Vikings fans.  Even they are still more interested in other free agent corners like Alterraun Verner, Brent Grimes, or Vontae Davis, this puts another body out there to drive prices down a touch and allow teams another option on players to recruit.

That isn’t to undersell what Shields has accomplished in 2013.  Here is some information about his play last season:
• 900 snaps played
• Only allowed 50% of passes thrown his way to be caught
• 16 passes defended
• 4 interceptions
• 51 tackles

Minnesota could throw a serious offfer Shields’ way.  His youth and cover ability make him a very appealing target, although he would command a price tag of around $7 million per year.  Of course, there’s always a chance that he will test free agency just to get leverage with his former club in Green Bay, but a big payday would be very hard for the young cornerback to resist.

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Sam Shields likely to command $7M annually

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel doesn't consider free agent CB Sam Shields a candidate for the franchise tag.

The Packers are currently in talks on a long-term deal for Shields and are expected to sign him before the start of free agency. Per reporter Tom Silverstein, he could command $7 million annually. Shields, 26, is Rotoworld's No. 6 corner available this offseason. He would cost $11.83 million if tagged.

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Sam Shields, Packers talk deal

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Discussions between the Green Bay Packers and the agent for cornerback Sam Shields heated up over the weekend at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Shields, met face-to-face with the Packers with the hope the sides could work out a deal before Shields became a free agent on March 11, according to a league source.

No deal was completed, but the source described the negotiations as "ongoing." The sides are expected to be in regular communication over the next several weeks.

The 26-year-old Shields, who played last season under a restricted free-agent tender of $2.023 million, is coming off his best season. He tied his career high with four interceptions in 14 games, including a game-changing pick in the fourth quarter of a Week 15 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Last week at the combine, Packers general manager Ted Thompson would not say whether the team would use the franchise tag on Shields if a deal couldn't be reached.

The deadline for teams to do so is March 3. The franchise tag for a cornerback is expected to be around $11 million this season.

"I think Sam has been a good player for us, and he does a good job," Thompson said last week. "And he's one of the fellas we'd like to have back."

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Sam Shields Seeks 4-year, $22.4 Million Deal

This is the time of the year where the NFL rumor mill typically hits its apex. The NFL Scouting Combine induces teams to toss around misinformation, and the opening of free agency has agents and general managers posturing for bargaining power. So it's no surprise when rumors about a soon-to-be free agent leak.
Now it appears such a rumor has surfaced regarding Packers cornerback Sam Shields.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Silverstein, via a tweet from Brian Carriveau, Shields and his agent Drew Rosenhaus desire a contract in the four-year, $22.4 million range. Such a deal would pay Shields similarly to Tim Jennings whom the Bears recently extended.

This is an odd report to untangle. The supposed contract demand is very team friendly. Shields is an established number one cornerback with elite speed and only 26 years old. To lock him down for four years at an average salary of $5.6 million would be a dream scenario for any team. However, the Packers under Ted Thompson haven't been known to leak information like this. At the same time, it's difficult to see Drew Rosenhaus leaking lowball contract demands for his client.

Ultimately, this probably isn't the contract that Shields signs. If no agreement is in place by March 11, the Packers may franchise tag him to avoid other teams from stepping in and blowing up the price tag. Alternatively, if the Packers do re-sign Shields, it'll almost certainly cost more than $5.6 million per year.

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What is Sam Shields' value to the Packers?

Green Bay — Off the line, Sam Shields was toasted. Burnt. The goat in T-minus 1.2 seconds. Absolutely nothing stood between Miles Austin and the end zone.

And in a flash — Darren Woodson still can't believe it — the Green Bay Packers cornerback closed the gap for an interception. Moments later, Green Bay officially erased a 23-point deficit against the Dallas Cowboys.

Not many athletes in today's game make that play.

"You could name them on one hand," said the former Cowboys safety Woodson, who's now an analyst with ESPN. "Darrelle Revis doesn't have that type of speed to make those plays. Not a whole lot of guys have that make-up speed."

Now, it's decision time. Shields is probably the most valuable of the Packers' 17 unrestricted free agents. Do they pay him as an elite cornerback?

Receivers who have faced the 5-foot-11, 184-pound cornerback see the talent, the speed. Woodson does, too. One teammate expects the corner to be back. They agree Shields is the rare cover corner you leave 1-on-1 on an island.

As is, he's not the complete package yet. It's on general manager Ted Thompson to decide if the 26-year-old is on the verge of stardom.

Woodson doesn't see this talent often.

"It'd be a shame — and I'd say this in front of Shields — it'd be a shame if he didn't take advantage of that (talent)," said Woodson, who had 23 interceptions and 12 forced fumbles in his 12-year career. "He can be a great one."

To date, there is indisputable growth. From 2010 playoff hero to 2011 scapegoat to a playmaking 2012 and 2013 corner shadowing top receivers, Shields has created a market for himself. Last spring, he stood at his locker and admitted he needed to "ball out." He needed to earn a contract extension. And in 14 games, Shields recorded 61 tackles (51 solo) with four interceptions and 17 pass break-ups.

Woodson believes Shields has leverage.

"There's not a lot of good guys you can leave out there on the edge by themselves in 1-on-1 situations," he said. "I think he has absolutely become one of those guys that you can leave out there and say, 'Hey, you've got it. I'll see you later after the game.'"

Wide receiver Jeremy Ross faced Shields in practice (as a Packer) and a game (with the Detrioit Lions). When Green Bay and Detroit met at Ford Field, the Packers were squashed, 40-10. But Shields did go punch for punch with Calvin Johnson that day. Johnson did damage underneath on slants, while Shields ripped away a highlight-reel interception in the end zone.

When Shields has a chance at a "splash play," position coach Joe Whitt Jr. asserted, he makes it.

Ross sees the wide receiver that Shields once was at Miami (Fla.).

"He's one of the top corners in the league when it comes to ball skills," Ross said. "He can run upfield with receivers, big receivers and get his body in position to go up and get the ball. He can catch. He's a threat as a corner. I think teams will like him a lot because they can leave him 1 on 1 with guys. He can go step for step with anybody in this league.

"There are a lot of guys who are good cover guys but they don't have the ball skills to go up and get it. He has that."

Adds Lions receiver Kris Durham, "Very instinctive. He relies on his instincts a lot. And he's very strong as well. He's as complete a corner as anyone around the league I've faced. …When you have you're A's, you're A-minuses and B-pluses. I'd say he's right there in the top 10, top 15 in the league."

Durham would know. In a 27-20 Packers win over Detroit in 2012, the tall wideout beat Davon House up the sideline for a 27-yarder and House was benched for Shields. Since then, that hierarchy hasn't changed.

To veteran Jarrett Bush, its not much of a debate. He expects to see Shields back.

"He's young. He's athletic. And he has experience," Bush said. "He has a Super Bowl under his belt. He has some the best athletic ability out there. So I see him re-signing and us loading up for next year.

"I'd be shocked if we don't sign him back."

Bush, the maniac who does wind sprints after scalding 85-degree training camp practices, does not see Shields becoming complacent after inking a lucrative deal. The cornerback room is full of snubbed pros. Tramon Williams, Shields and Bush were all undrafted.

Maybe the nature of Shields rise — camp body to top corner — will keep the fire burning.

"You have to stay hungry being an undrafted free agent," Bush said. "It's a mentality. That's what we pride ourselves instaying hungry, working hard on our reps. Prove people wrong because we were undrafted, that we belong along the best.

"I feel like he got snubbed on the Pro Bowl ballot. I think a lot of big names kind of jumped ahead of him. But in due time, as long as he keeps working, the sky's the limit."

As free agency nears, Thompson could slap the franchise tag on Shields for about $11 million. Still, Woodson suspects hesitance on the Packers' part. After all, how did it get to this point? Green Bay is roughly $28 million under the cap. If they wanted Shields long term, business should be closed.

The speed drops Woodson's jaw. He remembers watching that play at Dallas and thinking, "Where the hell did he come from?" But he won't put Shields in his Top 5 cornerbacks. Not even his Top 10.

He still has one progression to make. The greats, he says, rely on smarts. They study, they stay hungry, they don't lean on pure physical ability.

"The great ones believe it," he said. "Darrelle Revis, after he's seen a split all week in practice, he's going to take a chance. Richard Sherman does it all the time, whether he's in press man or off man. They see it, they feel it, they believe it, they take the chance. I'm not sure if Shields is there just yet."

Woodson's former teammate Deion Sanders owned the five yards of the line of scrimmage. That's where the Hall of Famer "controlled his fate," Woodson said. A technician with his hands and feet, he needed to win those five yards.

Asked where Shields could improve, Ross says "his releases," his "patience" at the line of scrimmage.

This is the brand of cornerback Ross hates facing — the patient corner, the corner who refuses to fall for a juke or jive.

"I think he could get better at that," Ross said. "Being more patient at times. Those fast guys, they're ready to run. So they jump the gun real fast. I think he's so fast, that could make his game even better. He can afford to be patient because if he does get beat, he's got the make-up speed."

Watching film of Shields, Woodson saw "a totally different player," a player with a palpable swagger. He blanketed No. 1 receivers for stretches and became a wide receiver with the ball in flight. Thus, unlike Bush, there is a shred of worry in Woodson's voice. Playing in a contract year might've been one reason. He's seen this scenario before.

If the Packers do pay up for Shields, will that swagger stick? Will he do what's necessary to become elite?

Behind the scenes, Thompson and Co. must wrestle with that question.

"He can press, he can play off. He can do everything," Woodson said. "I would trust him one on one out there with anybody. But, again, I just don't know his heart."

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Packers expected to meet with Sam Shields' agent

The Packers are expected to meet with free agent CB Sam Shields' player rep at the Combine.

Combine meetings are commonplace, but the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported late last month that the sides had been in "regular contact." The Pack are clearly motivated to lock their top corner up to a long-term deal, avoiding the roughly $11 million franchise tag. A former undrafted free agent, Shields has little incentive to agree to anything less than market value.

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Re-signing Sam Shields won't come cheap for Packers

Sam Shields has been at the bottom of the NFL’s salary rung for four years after entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2010.

But Shields resisted relative financial security last year when the Packers tried to negotiate a contract extension, and then survived the significant injury risk of playing through 2013.

Now the 26-year-old cornerback no doubt is looking for his reward: a blockbuster payday as a free agent this spring. Which likely is making it difficult for the Packers to re-sign the player who likely is their No. 1 contract priority this offseason.

The Packers have been in contact with his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, this offseason and likely will talk to him at the NFL scouting combine later this month. But Shields will be one of the top cornerbacks available in free agency starting March 11, along with New England’s Aqib Talib, Tennessee’s Alterraun Verner, Indianapolis’ Vontae Davis and Denver’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

“It’s a small class of top cover corners, so (Shields) has a chance to do well,” a pro scout for another NFL team said. “He runs as well as any free agent cornerback.”

Working in Shields’ favor is his youth (26), speed and still-ascending career trajectory. Working against him is the NFL’s relatively flat salary cap, which is expected to rise only slightly from last season’s $123 million to an estimated $126.3 million. A flat cap contributed to a soft free agent market for cornerbacks last spring.

Last year, the four cornerbacks to come out of free agency with the highest-paying contracts were Philadelphia’s Cary Williams ($5.7 million average), Kansas City’s Sean Smith ($5.5 million), New Orleans’ Keenan Lewis ($5.11 million) and San Diego’s Derek Cox ($5 million). Their guaranteed moneyicon1 ranged from $5.75 million to $7.65 million.

The aforementioned scout said Shields is a better pure cover man than any of them, and thus figures to be in line for a better deal. The question is, how much better?

The highest-paid cornerbacks in the league are Tampa Bay’s Darrelle Revis ($16 million average), Denver’s Champ Bailey ($10.6 million), Dallas’ Brandon Carr ($10 million), St. Louis’ Cortland Finnegan ($10 million) and Cincinnati’s Leon Hall ($9.75 million).

Though Shields had his best season last year and led the team in interceptions with four, he doesn’t appear to be in line for that kind of contract.

Shields’ teammate with the Packers, Tramon Williams, ranks No. 8 on that list at an $8.25 million average. In 2014, Williams is scheduled to make $7.5 million in salary and bonuses.

That could be the kind of offer it would take to prevent Shields from testing the free-agent market. A second NFL scout this week guessed that Shields might command as much as an $8.5 million average on the open market.

If the Packers don’t work out a new deal with Shields, they have until March 3 to use the franchise tag on him. However, the tag’s cost could prove prohibitive for general manager Ted Thompson. The NFL has not released tag values yet, but it’s likely to be similar to last year, when the tender for cornerbacks was $10.854 million.

Thompson and team vice president Russ Ball have plenty of salary-cap room — with the rollover of unused money from last season, they have about $26 million in cap space, minus the several million dollars they’ll need to sign rookies. So that could help their chances of signing Shields.

However, Thompson also probably will be looking in the next six to nine months to negotiate expensive contract extensions with receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, who are in the last season of their deals. Plus, Thompson has 17 unrestricted free agents of his own, and if many of those players sign elsewhere, the GM might have to turn more to the free-agent market than he has in the past to replenish high-priority positions.

Thompson’s desire to retain Shields has to be high as he attempts to rebuild a defense that last season ranked No. 25 in yards allowed and tied for No. 24 in points allowed. Shields was one of the defense’s best performers, and Thompson already has holes to fill on that side of the ball at safety, inside linebacker, and probably defensive line and outside linebacker.

If the Packers re-sign Shields, cornerback probably would be the defense’s strongest position. He and Williams would be the outside starters, Casey Hayward the nickel back, and Micah Hyde the likely dime back. Fourth-year pro Davon House would be the No. 5 cornerback.

However, if Shields signs with another team, the Packers probably would look to Hayward to replace him as a starting outside cornerback, which could be a concern because of Hayward’s durability issues — he missed most of last season with a recurring hamstring injury. Then either Hyde or House would be the No. 3 cornerback — if Hyde, he would play the slot corner in the nickel and Hayward would stay outside; if House, he would play the outside in the nickel and Hayward would move to the slot.

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Sam Shields, Packers in regular contact

A source tells the Journal-Sentinel that the Packers and free agent CB Sam Shields have been in regular contact.

The Packers want to re-sign Shields as a talented bookend to Tramon Williams. But the former undrafted free agent is going to go to the highest bidder, and position coach Joe Whitt Jr. didn't do the franchise any favors when it comes to leverage by calling Shields a top-10 NFL corner. Therefore, his return is considered "50-50" by the Journal-Sentinel's source as March creeps closer.

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Conversations continue between Packers, CB Sam Shields

Green Bay --- In our chat yesterday, many of you asked about the status of free agent cornerback Sam Shields. Didn't get into it too much then, so figured I'd share here.

One source indicated recently that the two sides have been in regular contact and that the Packers do want to re-sign the 26-year-old, but also considered his return "50/50."

So in other words, nothing new here yet. As free agency in March nears, talks will likely carry more substance.

The Packers have several unrestricted free agents this off-season, including Shields, B.J. Raji, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Jermichael Finley, Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal and John Kuhn.

Shields has experienced his ups and downs since breaking onto the scene as an undrafted rookie in 2010, but may be one of the top young corners in the game. His tackling has steadily improved since a porous 2011 season and he often matched up on the opponent's top wideout last season.

Position coach Joe Whitt Jr. regards Shields a "top 10" cornerback in the NFL. In Shields and Tramon Williams could field two corners in their prime within a division that features Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings and Alshon Jeffery.

A year ago, the 5-foot-11, 184-pound Shields finished with 61 tackles (51 solo), 17 pass break-ups and four interceptions. Including the postseason, he has 17 picks in four seasons. Still, Shields has battled his share of injuries, missing eight games the last two seasons. He left Green Bay's 23-20 loss to San Francisco with a bone bruise.

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Sam Shields likely to reach free agency

Packer Report's Bill Huber believes it's "increasingly likely" free agent CB Sam Shields will hit the open market.

Shields will surely seek to max out his contractual worth, which may put him out of conservative GM Ted Thompson's price range. Cornerback is arguably the deepest position on Green Bay's roster, with Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Davon House, and Micah Hyde all under contract for 2014. Shields isn't quite valuable enough to be a candidate for the Packers' franchise tag.

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Sam Shields seen as player Packers need to retain

NFL reporter and blogger Mike Sando listed 25 free agents, the “ones teams need to re-sign if they hope to avoid a significant drop in performance next season.”

He put defensive tackle B.J. Raji 11th on his list and cornerback Sam Shields 15th.

Sando said “Shields provides needed stability in the Green Bay secondary" and that "he could even outrank Raji on this list, depending on what role the Packers have in mind for Raji.”

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Sam Shields avoids serious knee injury

While Sunday ended up being a bad day for his team, things could have been even worse for Packers cornerback Sam Shields.

He exited in pain during the 49ers’ opening offensive drive after a teammate fell on Shields’ leg during an effort to tackle San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree.

Believed to be an MCL strain, an MRI exam reveals that Shields suffered only a bone bruise.  And that’s great news for Shields, given that he’s due to become a free agent in March.

Shields started 14 regular-season games in 2013, missing two with a hamstring injury.

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Some proCanes Advance in the NFL Playoffs, While Others Are Sent Home Packing

With the first round of the NFL playoffs complete, some proCanes were sent home packing while others continue their quest for a Super Bowl ring.

With the New Orleans Saints defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, Jimmy Graham and Jon Vilma (IR) advance to the next round of the playoffs to take on the proCane-less Seattle Seahawks. Go Saints! The Eagles lost because they didn’t have any proCanes. Happy

Two proCanes were sent home with the Kansas City Chiefs losing a thriller to the Indianapolis Colts. DL Allen Bailey and TE Richard Gordon were sent home while Reggie Wayne (IR) will continue to help his team from sidelines in their next game versus the New England Patriots who have proCane DL Vince Wilfork who is also on IR.

The San Francisco 49ers behind the solid running of proCane RB Frank Gore ended up defeating the Green Bay Packers who lost proCane DB Sam Shields in the first quarter of their defeat. The 49ers will face the Carolina Panthers who have proCane TE Greg Olsen on the field and QB Coach Ken Dorsey on the sidelines. The Packers also have scouts Glenn Cook and Alonzo Highsmith on their staff as well as Winston Moss.

The Chargers who don’t have a proCane and defeated the proCane-less Bengals (boooooring), will face the Denver Broncos with their solid proCane offensive lineman Orlando Franklin.

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Sam Shields Named To All NFC North Team by ESPN

On the defensive side of the ball, Clay Matthews remained one of the division’s biggest impact players despite missing five games because of a broken thumb. But the biggest surprise was the development of second-year defensive tackle Mike Daniels, who was the Packers’ best interior pass-rusher. Cornerback Sam Shields' emergence as the team’s top cover cornerback will earn him a big paycheck in free agency, whether it’s from the Packers or another team.

Click here to see the rest of the players named.

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Sam Shields fined for play against Dallas

GREEN BAY - Packers cornerback Sam Shields was fined for throwing the ball into the stands after his late-game interception against the Dallas Cowboys. Shields was fined $5,250, an NFL spokesman told FOX 11.

Players are fined for throwing the ball into the stands because of concerns over fan safety. Shields' third interception of the season gave the Packers the ball in good position to score the go-ahead touchdown, putting them in front of the Cowboys. Green Bay beat Dallas 37-36.

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Practice report: Shields still sidelined

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The hamstring injury that took out cornerback Sam Shields at the last minute before Sunday’s game against the New York Giants remains problematic.

The Green Bay Packers’ best cover man was not on the field when the team returned to practice on Wednesday to begin preparations for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.

Shields was listed as probable for last week’s game despite not practicing on Friday. However, he was declared inactive after a game-day workout did not go well.

“Sam didn’t feel it was serious but obviously as time approached the game, it was not where he needed to be,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said earlier in the week.

The Packers also were without another top cornerback, Casey Hayward, who is expected to miss multiple weeks with a recurrence of the hamstring injury he first sustained before training camp.

Others who did not practice on Wednesday were: quarterback Aaron Rodgers (collarbone), cornerback James Nixon (knee), linebacker Nick

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Sam Shields' late scratch leads to switch up

The Packers discovered they’d be without arguably their best cornerback, Sam Shields, shortly before the game-day inactives were announced on Sunday.
That decision came after Shields labored through a pre-game workout, according to Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who added: “Sam didn’t feel it was serious, but obviously as time approached the game it was not where he needed to be.”

The last-second scenario reminded defensive coordinator Dom Capers of the regular-season opener in San Francisco when Morgan Burnett was expected to play but wound up sidelined with his own hamstring ailment.

Like Burnett’s situation, it led to some last second shuffling, which included rookie Micah Hyde playing the slot in nickel and veteran Jarrett Bush seeing his most playing time of the season as the dime cornerback.

Capers said the plan going in was to have Hyde handle first- and second-down nickel snaps with veteran Tramon Williams rotating in on third downs. Without Shields on the outside, Williams put together his finest effort of the season – seven tackles and an interception – but wasn’t able to shift from his perimeter post, either.

“You have to be prepared. On any given play, you could lose any player,” Capers said. “They aren’t going to slow things down. You have to be ready to adjust and just like we have to adjust in-game when you lose a guy in-game. We’ve had to do that a number of times this year with Clay and other people.”

The secondary didn’t play terribly, but was burned on a few critical plays that came primarily as a result of switch routes where two receivers cross their routes in hopes of throwing off the defenders.

The first came on Rueben Randle’s 26-yard touchdown when Hyde turned the wrong way into a zone defense rather than staying with Randle in man.

In the third quarter following a Scott Tolzien interception, there was some miscommunication between Williams and Burnett that led to Hakeem Nicks’ 35-yard catch with both defensive backs staying with Cruz and leaving Nicks free over the top.

On another third-and-5 play off a switch route, safety M.D. Jennings simply failed to come down to cover tight end Brandon Myers, who caught an 8-yard pass from Eli Manning and led to a touchdown two plays later.

Giants receiver Victor Cruz also said afterward that New York had a good feel for the Packers’ schemes and calls in certain situations en route to picking up a 30-yard completion in the first quarter with outside linebacker Clay Matthews in coverage.

“They basically were very protection cautious on third down. It looked like they were almost expecting pressure every third down from us,” Capers said. “They basically were very protection cautious on third down. It looked like they were almost expecting pressure every third down from us. We adjusted and we didn’t pressure as much after that.

“But we brought a corner and when you’re bringing a corner and you have Clay coming off with a safety playing over the top of him, and Cruz ran a nod route where he went down and we were in pretty good coverage and he stuttered and took off on the thing. That was a good route no matter who he was running against.”

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Sam Shields rising to occasion

Green Bay — Giants shield the end zone, like Mike Daniels and A.J. Hawk, with shoulders so broad they take an angle when they walk through some doorways, and Datone Jones and Johnny Jolly, who are tall enough to need the headroom of an SUV.

But there is Sam Shields behind them all, Green Bay's last line of defense. He is guarding the goal line against Washington and dives after the ball carrier. Then he disappears, No. 37 buried under fullbacks and tight ends and linemen.

The play worked. Green Bay lived to fight another down.

Shields got to the NFL with his speed. Nothing has changed there. But the truth is, he has had to work on other parts of his game to stick around as an undrafted free agent and become a starting cornerback for the now sizable, now feisty Packers defense.

"He might not be your biggest guy but he's a tough guy," said safety Morgan Burnett. "He has the big play-making ability but he won't back down from no one, I don't care who you are."

Starting opposite Tramon Williams, Shields has been taking on top-flight receivers this season.

Against Baltimore, he defended Torrey Smith, who was second in the NFL with 556 yards at that point but was held to one catch for 12 yards.

Against Washington, Shields dived around Santana Moss to deflect a pass with his left hand. When Robert Griffin III completed a big throw to Pierre Garcon, it could have been a touchdown, but Shields raced from behind to save it. Washington didn't score on the drive.

Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green did get a touchdown out of his four catches, but Shields evened the score with an interception and otherwise hounded Green. That was a big-time stance against a Pro Bowl receiver.

After some early inconsistency, Shields is turning in steady performances. Shields still uses his speed and has refined some acrobatic moves to make up for anything he doesn't have in height and weight at 5 feet 11 inches and 184 pounds.

"I've been working at it, working at different movements that I never did before," said Shields. "When the coaches look at me, they're now grading me on technique, like staying square on backpedaling, so that you can move either way. It also helps in practice, going against Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson — they make it so much easier when you get to Sunday."

He's also adopted the mentality of a shutdown corner.

"Guys are going to catch balls, we have to forget about it and keep going," he said. "But I say to myself, every down: 'He's not going to catch it.' He might — but that's what I keep in my mind, every down, just go hard."

Shields has done everything possible to improve as a player and his gift of speed. He worked with his position coach, Joe Whitt Jr., to learn the defense.
"My first year I was out there, I didn't know it. I couldn't get it," said Shields.

Whitt put the formation on one side of a flashcard and then drew the defense on the other and tested Shields until he learned. Now, he's a trusted teammate.
"I like everything about Sam," said Hawk. "He's so easy. He communicates really well. He's super quiet but on the field, I love him. He's one of the fastest guys on the team, and so athletic, we have so much respect for him."

With Shields signing a one-year tender offer in June, he's playing for his future now. That will be largely determined by him and partly by his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

"He was the only agent that really wanted me," said Shields. "I was like shoot, why not."

Rosenhaus followed Shields' career closely at the University of Miami, where Shields was a receiver until he converted to defensive back in 2009.

"He was a very talented guy that really wasn't used properly in college," said Rosenhaus. "He was out of position most of his career and yet he had a lot of upside. I was very interested in signing Sam. Even though he wasn't projected at the time to get drafted, we were very confident that he would be a good NFL player."

It's incredible, really, playing his first defensive snap in 2009, helping the team win the Super Bowl the following year and taking on top wideouts now. By many accounts that's all a credit to Shields and his dedication.

"He's matured so much," said Rosenhaus. "Not only as a player, just as a person. He's come so far, I give him so much credit.

"He's accountable both on and off the field, he's hardworking, dependable and he's a likable guy. He has a great personality. I've never met anybody who met Sam who didn't really like him."

The one area Shields hasn't been able to improve?

Bulking up.

Sam Shields III can thank genetics for his frame, but then he would have to be thankful for the speed and athleticism, too. His father, Sam Shields Jr., was a point guard at Southwestern Louisiana, a teammate of Andrew Toney, who went on to play for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Sam Jr. has been with wife Mimi since junior high school and raised Sam and his sister in the same Sarasota house he was born and raised in, just down the street from the John Ringling mansion that was turned into an art museum. The Shields' front door was always open and Mimi was always feeding someone.

"We never pushed our kids to do anything, but we stood behind them and supported them all the time," he said.

Blazing speed ran in the family, and when they were little Sam Shields' sister used to beat him in races down the street.

"And he would pout, and he would pout, and he would pout," said his father.

Sam didn't gravitate to basketball like his dad, though. His steal and sprint down the court would end with a plain old layup. No, he was a football player. This was Florida after all.

"Sarasota is pretty retired, laid back," said Sam Jr. "The black community is very small and together. This town is very liberal and very cultural, big art culture. And athletes here play football, tennis and, of course, golf."

It is important to know this because when Shields was asked the reason for his success, this was his answer:

"My parents always stayed on me. School, sports. That was a blessing because I don't know a lot of guys around here that have both of their parents.

"But being home is a place that I don't want to be. To tell you the truth, I'd probably be doing some illegal stuff if I was home. Just being real."

Shields explained that in Florida he has a friend who can't get a job because of his criminal record. He has another friend who has a degree but no motivation to find work.

"He's just not trying. That kills me every time," said Shields.

He knows others with similar stories. This is all too common. Sam Jr. said there were kids who were better — and even faster — than Sam but didn't have the focus or the desire to put in the work. Or they took their gifts for granted.

"Sam actually willed himself to do a lot of things on the positive side. He made a lot of good decisions," his dad said.

That means Shields comes back from practice and heads to his locker slowly, taking steps gingerly as joints and muscles pinch and tighten. Sure, he's tried to put on some muscle or even just a few pounds to endure another year in the NFL, but he eats whatever he wants and doesn't gain an ounce. So he just takes the abuse.

"I mean, there's a lot more guys smaller than me!" he pleads.

There's Denver's Tony Carter, who is 5-9, 175.

"He's a good player, he's smaller, way smaller than me," said Shields. "Brent Grimes plays for the Dolphins. I admire him a lot."

Looking ahead there's Calvin Johnson to face in the rematch with Detroit. There's Roddy White and Atlanta. Brandon Marshall in Chicago.

"Those are some big challenges I'd like to go against," said Shields. "Hey, I get a little aggressive, too. My little body can get a little aggressive too."

He may be small but he's going to have to play tall. Shields' father proudly introduces him back home as his NFL star son and the reaction is always, "'re kind of small."

To which Dad responds: "Well, he plays on his toes so he can be a little taller."

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Sam Shields: Shooting down the stars

Water covers 75 percent of the Earth’s surface. Sam Shields covers the rest.

While that has been applied to the likes of Charles Woodson, we felt it’s time to move it over to the Packers best cover corner in 2013.

In the past four weeks, the Packers have faced three of the NFL’s top receivers. All were blanketed by Sam Shields and held as a non-factor.

Shields has allowed only nine receptions on 20 targeted passes in the last four games. These numbers are even more exceptional looking at who he was matched up against. A.J. Green, Torrey Smith and Josh Gordon have totaled 1,698 yards and eight touchdowns this year.

Smith and Green are first and third in the NFL in receiving yards. Gordon was averaging more than 100 yards per game before he was put on Shields island.
Shields has come a long way since entering the NFL as a free agent. Ted Thompson sniped Sam Shield’s potential and made him a big acquisition during the 2010 Super Bowl run. Since then, his play has been skittish. It wasn’t until the Packers refused to sign him to a long-term contract this offseason that he reached his high ceiling.

Now, upon playing the greatest football of his career, the schedule won’t get much easier. Brandon Marshall is coming up twice with DeSean Jackson, Megatron, and Dez Bryant down the road as well. Should Shields keep up his elite performance, he will be due a monster pay-day this offseason.

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Sam Shields ready to lead Packers' secondary

GREEN BAY, Wis. – At some point during the Green Bay Packers’ most recent game, the Week 3 loss at Cincinnati, cornerback Sam Shields went to the coaches and asked to match up against the Bengals' star receiver, A.J. Green.

The way Shields has played, it didn’t take much to convince Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt to go along with the plan.

“I said, ‘You feel good about it?’” Whitt recalled on Friday. “He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Go ahead and match him.’ It really wasn’t our part doing it.”

By halftime, Shields already had intercepted a pass intended for Green. Playing one-on-one press man coverage, Shields read an out route and stepped in front of Green to pick off quarterback Andy Dalton’s pass, which was thrown too far inside.

Although Green caught a 20-yard touchdown pass against Shields in the third quarter, the coaches were pleased with Shields’ coverage of one of the premier receivers in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, Shields allowed Green to catch four passes for 46 yards and the one touchdown in seven targets.

That game may have signaled a changing of the guard at cornerback for the Packers.

They already had made one philosophical switch this season, when they decided to no longer line up Tramon Williams against the opposition’s best receiver game in and game out. Rather, Whitt and defensive coordinator Dom Capers were going to let Shields and Williams patrol their sides of the field.

Halfway through the third game, they went back to their old coverage plans, but with Shields, not Williams, as the lock-down defender.

“It means a lot,” Shields said. “It’s something that gave the coaches confidence in me.”

The Packers have carved out a new role for Williams, too. In the nickel package, he has moved inside to cover the slot receiver, a defensive role formerly held by Charles Woodson. But it means the Packers’ highest-paid cornerback (Williams will make $6.5 million this year in salary and bonuses) is no longer the cornerstone of their pass coverage.

Ever the consummate professional, Williams had nothing but praise for the 25-year-old Shields.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are capable of getting the job done,” Williams said. “If you’re asking me if I feel badly about it, no, because I know those guys will get the job done. It actually works better for the defense, and it shows the growth in the defense. My pride? I don’t have any pride behind it.”

Just because Shields has played well does not mean all is right with the Packers’ pass defense. Through Week 4, the Packers ranked 28th out of 32 teams in passing yards allowed per game.

And with perhaps the NFL’s most dangerous receiver, Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, next up on the schedule, there’s reason to wonder if anyone on the Packers, including Shields, can slow him down.

“To say you’re going to just take one guy and match him up out there and take Calvin Johnson the whole day, you’ve got to mix it up because all these guys are too good,” Capers said. “Every week, you play against a guy like a Green or a Calvin Johnson. Those type of receivers, I don’t care what you do, if you do the same thing on them all the time, they’re going to get you some. They’re just too talented.”

It should help that the Packers will have starting safety Morgan Burnett for the first time this season. Burnett, who missed the first three games with a hamstring injury, would likely be the one Capers would use to double-team Johnson.

Williams, in his new slot position, is likely to see Johnson, too. Johnson has five of his 21 receptions this season from the slot position, according to Pro Football Focus.

But this could be another statement game for Shields, who is playing this season under the one-year, $2.023 million tender he signed as a restricted free agent. Shields’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had discussions with the Packers about a long-term deal over the summer. The way Shields has played so far, his price might have gone up since then.

“If I keep playing how I’ve been playing, I’ll just let my play speak for itself,” Shields said.

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Starter Pack: Contract in Shields' future?

Back in June, agent Drew Rosenhaus flew to Green Bay in an effort to get a long-term contract for client Sam Shields, who was a restricted free agent.

It didn’t happen at the time, and the fourth-year cornerback quickly signed his one-year tender offer worth $2.023 million.

But the way Shields is playing now, it might be a good thing for him that they couldn’t reach a deal back in June. He might get more money now.

In Sunday’s loss at Cincinnati, Shields was called upon to match up against Bengals star receiver A.J. Green at times. Although he gave up a touchdown pass to Green, Shields also had an interception. And as Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette wrote: “If Shields keeps having performances like the one he had Sunday, he might be soon to follow (with a contract extension).”

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Sam Shields impressive in shut down of Bengals WR Green

The decibel level in Sam Shields’ voice rarely flickers above a muttered, hushed tone.

The Green Bay Packers cornerback doesn’t possess the same philosophical insights as teammate Tramon Williams or the diplomatic resolve of a Charles Woodson. But inside a meeting room, he’s as respected as anyone on the roster.

Taking a quick scan of the 24-year-old, you wouldn’t know he usually tests higher than anyone in cornerback coach Joe Whitt’s classroomicon1 or that he took rookies and first-year players like Micah Hyde and James Nixon under his wing in camp.

On the field, whatever jitters he felt during a turbulent sophomore season in 2011 appear to be a thing of the past.

Right now, Shields has the look of a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent reaching the peak of his powers and playing with a carefree attitude that could garner him the millions he never saw as an undrafted free agent out of Miami in 2010.

“I think he’s done an excellent job,” Whitt said. “He’s not a very talkative young man, but he’s leading by the tempo that he plays with. His tests are the best in the room. He leads by the way he takes notes and showing them, ‘This is the way you take notes.’ In every aspect of it, he doesn’t really talkicon1 a lot, but I’ve been pleased with where he is.”

The Packers gave a greenicon1 light this offseason to allowing Shields and Williams to man their own sides of the field in coverage rather than utilizing Williams as a shutdown cornerback designated to follow around the opposing team’s best receiver.

Whitt cautioned there would be some exceptions as the season wore on and Sunday’s game against Cincinnati was one of them. However, it was Shields — not Williams — who was following stud receiver A.J. Green’s every move.

A game-ball recipient for his three pass deflections and two third-down stops against Washington two weeks ago, Shields limited the 6-foot-4 Green to only four second-half catches for 46 yards and a touchdown, marking only the fifth time over his past 20 games he’s been held under 50 receiving yards.
Along the way, Shields was responsible for the first turnover of the season for the Packers’ secondary when he flew in front of an Andy Dalton first-quarter pass intended for Green on a sideline comeback route.

The play was a thing of beauty as Shields stayed in front of the route, contorted his body slightly to the left as his momentum pulled him to the right to adjust to the ball and cause the first of what turned out to be four consecutive turnovers forced by the Packers’ defense.

Aaron Rodgers and the offense struggled on the ensuing series, but the play set the table for the Packers to crawl back after falling into a 14-0 hole in the opening minutes of the game.

“A.J. is an all-pro player. My thing was not letting him get the upfield ball,” Shields said. “He caught a couple and he got a touchdown on me, but things like that are going to happen. He’s a great receiver. He’s going to catch balls and he’s going to score. The key is forgetting it and keep playing.”

The decision to promote Shields into such an important role serves as a strong indication of how far he’s come following a disappointing 2011 season in which he missed eight tackles, and allowed 611 yards and six touchdowns on 46 receptions, according to Pro Football Focus.

Shields started slow last season before busting out for 23 tackles, a career-high 10 pass deflections and three interceptions. He missed six games due to a high-ankle sprain, but led the NFL in coverage snaps per reception (16.3).

The performanceicon1 led to Shields and his agent Drew Rosenhaus opting to sit out of the Packers’ voluntary organized team activity practices in hopes of signing a more lucrative deal than the one-year, $2.01 million one he received as a restricted free agent this offseason.

The Packers began discussions with Shields about a possible long-term deal this summer after he signed his second-round tender in June, but quickly turned their attention to extending fourth-year safetyicon1 Morgan Burnett on the eve of training camp.

If Shields keeps having performances like the one he had Sunday, he might be soon to follow.

“Sam’s made progress ... we felt good about him last year, we feel good about him this year,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “He’s made some impact plays. You saw the one (Sunday), that was a really nice play he made on that interception.”

Shields is the lightest cornerback on the roster at 5-foot-11, 184 pounds, but he plays physical and has enough speed to match the likes of Green and other deep-field threats.

The key for Shields and the rest of the secondary has been eliminating big plays and excess yardage. He already has six pass deflections in three games, but Pro Football Focus also has docked him for allowing 17 catches for 310 yards and two touchdowns.

Most of that production came on the Packers’ secondary allowing San Francisco’s Anquan Boldin and Washington’s Pierre Garcon to put up big numbers.
“We have to go out there and make the plays,” Whitt said. “San Fran game, we played a good first half and then we let it go. That can’t happen. We have to play 60 minutes and that’s what we must do to beat a team we have to beat.”

Still, Shields is more of an answer than a question with his game-breaking ability being one of the key components of the Packers’ zone-blitz defense. It’s a secondary that has ranked in the top five in interceptions during each of Capers and Whitt’s four seasons together.

Shields and the secondary are in for another test as one of the NFL’s top receivers, Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, awaits them after this week’s bye.

The spotlight will continue to shine for Shields, who has often reiterated how he wants to remain a Packer. Over the coming months, he’ll get a chance to show he’s worthy of a contract in the ballpark of the four-year extension Williams signed in 2010 that averages $8.25 million per season.

If Shields can play up to those standards this season, he’ll know how he got there.

“It’s always confidence,” Shields said recently. “Confidence and knowing where you’re at on the field, knowing your help. Having that mindset of going out and saying, ‘This dude is not going to catch the ball.’ I go out there each and every play, and just have that in my mind.”

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Sam Shields has taken game to higher level

GREEN BAY—While rookie cornerback Micah Hydeicon-article-link has been grabbing most of the attention at training camp, Sam Shields has quietly taken his game to a higher level.

“I have 100 percent confidence in Sam’s ability,” Cornerbacks Coach Joe Whitt said. “He’s a complete corner. He tackles at a very high level. He’s had a clean camp. You don’t see many balls caught on him. The way he’s practiced, it would be hard for me to believe he wouldn’t be one of those two (starting cornerbacks).”

It’s one of the Packers’ deepest positions, which is largely a result of Hyde’s emergence and Shields’ development. Also feeding the depth chart at cornerback is Davon Houseicon-article-link’s recovery from shoulder surgery and Casey Haywardicon-article-link’s recent return to practice from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for most of camp.

“Nothing is too big for him,” Whitt said of Hyde, the fifth-round pick from Iowa who is sharing the rookie spotlight with David Bakhtiariicon-article-link and Eddie Lacyicon-article-link. “You don’t shake the guy. He gave up that big play (in St. Louis); he didn’t care. You’re going to get beat. How do you respond to it?”

Head Coach Mike McCarthy will be looking for a response from several players on Friday night, when the Packers host the Seattle Seahawks in game three of the preseason. It’ll be the most intensely evaluated game of the preseason, and it’ll go a long way toward deciding roster spots and starting jobs.

The Packers are looking for kick-returners as Randall Cobbicon-article-link recovers from a bicep injury. Hyde has emerged as a punt-return candidate and he’ll be used in that role against the Seahawks.

“He’s smooth. He’ll get some more opportunities. I thought on his punt return the other night he got off the spot pretty quickly. Things have a chance to change at all times. It’s just the evaluation of our football team,” Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum said of Hyde and the search for return men.

Rookie running back Johnathan Franklinicon-article-link will likely get a look at returning kickoffs.

“Johnathan’s in a growth period. That’s part of the process. He’s learning how to do it,” Slocum said.

The Packers might have all the information they need on wide receiver Jeremy Rossicon-article-link as a return man.

“We want to see some of these other guys in the most competitive situations, and that’s in the games. Randall’s still not out of the equation. He’s had some health issues. We’re in the middle of camp building our team. We’ve made no decisions at this point,” Slocum said.

The major drama on special teams, of course, is at kicker, where Mason Crosbyicon-article-link might’ve taken a step back on Wednesday by missing three field goal attempts in practice. His competition with Giorgio Tavecchioicon-article-link continues, but it goes deeper than that for both kickers.

“That can go on forever,” Slocum said. “Not only do they compete against each other, they compete with the rest of the league.”

Just as Shields has taken his game to a higher level in this training camp, so has tight end Jermichael Finley. He’s bigger, stronger and, as a result, has improved his blocking. He’s also become a sure-handed pass-catcher in this training camp, and that might be a product of the extra work he’s done with his coach, Jerry Fontenot.

“I think he’s always known he could catch the ball. My focus was on making it fun again,” Fontenot said of a drill in which Fontenot throws hard-to-catch passes at Finley from 5-7 yards away.

“He’s always calling me to go over there and do it. I try to challenge him as much as I can and try to throw him hot balls and not make it perfect every time,” Fontenot said. “Now we use it to work on some eye focus details and hand placement.”

Finley and the first-team offense are expected to get their longest playing time of the preseason on Friday. They moved the ball well in St. Louis but have yet to make it into the end zone this summer.

“It’s more of what you target for getting a semblance of the regular season,” Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said of game three of the preseason. “This is probably the last big test.”

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Sam Shields key to coverage changes

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Since Joe Whitt started coaching cornerbacks for the Green Bay Packers in 2009, he always assigned shutdown duties to one of his cornerbacks.

First it was Charles Woodson. Then it became Tramon Williams.

That plan is no more.

In what represents a significant change for the way the Packers will cover this season, Whitt and defensive coordinator Dom Capers have decided to leave their starting cornerbacks on their respective sides. Whitt said that decision was made well before Williams sustained his knee injury early in camp, and that plan will remain intact even after Williams returns, which the Packers hope is in time for the Sept. 8 opener at San Francisco.

It also means the plan was devised before the Packers saw how well fourth-year pro Sam Shields has played this preseason and how quickly rookie Micah Hyde emerged as a contender for playing time.

“We have guys with similar ability,” Whitt said on Wednesday. “There’s no reason to be putting that all on one guy when they have to have that same receiver down in and down out. If we have guys that are equal in ability, you split it.”

That said, Whitt was quick to acknowledge that if one of his defenders proves unable to handle a certain matchup, say against Chicago’s Brandon Marshall or Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, then he would go back to matching coverage.

But going into the season, he doesn’t expect that to happen. Not with guys like Williams, Shields, Hyde and Casey Hayward (who led all NFL rookies last season with six interceptions while playing mostly in the slot).

“I told the group that I didn’t want to match this year,” Whitt said. “I want to go left and right and make sure that you have the ability to handle the guy that comes to your side.”

Perhaps it’s the result of a drop-off in the play of Williams, who the past two seasons couldn’t match his form from 2010 when he was one of the top cover men in the league.

Whitt, however, says that is not the case.

“I think Tramon got criticized for his tough matches and some other guys got more credit because they didn’t have those matches,” Whitt said. “Well, we’re going to give everybody the opportunity to get that tough match and now everybody has to play, and then we’ll see where everything is.”

What is apparent is that Shields, who started eight games last season, appears ready for a larger role. In 25 snaps over the first two preseason games, Shields has allowed only one completion for 17 yards, according to

After staying away from team workouts most of the offseason while hoping for a long-term contract -- one he never received, leaving him with no choice but to sign the restricted free-agent tender of $2.023 million -- Shields has come back better than ever.

Whitt wouldn’t name any starters on Wednesday, but it was clear it would take a major collapse by Shields over the final two preseason games to lose his spot.

“But the way he’s practiced and the way he’s done it has been so clean, it’d be hard for me to believe that he’s not going to be one of those two,” Whitt said, “if not the top one.”

Shields’ eyes lit up on Wednesday when asked about the chance to cover any receiver who lines up on his side.

“It’s an opportunity for me to guard these guys and just get a chance to get that confidence, just have that confidence knowing I can stick whoever comes to my side,” Shields said. “Just go out there and do what I’ve been doing.”

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Sam Shields working as starter

Green Bay Packers CBs Micah Hyde and Sam Shields are working as starters in practice, with CB Davon House working on the second-team defense, and working on the No. 1 nickel unit.

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Sam Shields adds savvy to go with his speed

The Green Bay Packers player quietly having as good a camp as anyone is cornerback Sam Shields.

With cornerbacks Tramon Williams (knee) and Casey Hayward (hamstring) out because of injuries, Shields is playing a key role with the starting defense in the preseason. You don’t hear his name much, and the only time you do is when he’s making a tackle. If you’re a defensive back and only getting your name called when you’re making a tackle, that’s pretty darn good.

Shields in his fourth season doesn’t get beat as much as he used to when receivers break off routes, and when he does, he still has the speed to close quickly. You compare that Micah Hyde, the fifth-round draft pick who’s having a strong training campicon1. Hyde doesn’t have that extra gear to close fast when a receiver breaks.

Earlier in his careericon1, Shields got beat a lot on double moves and peaking into the backfield. He often got back in the play because of his speed and jumping ability, but now with some seasoning he’s not making those mistakes. He’s using his hands better, getting nice leverage. He’s having a really nice camp.

When Hayward and Williams come back, Shields will complement them well. Going into camp, Hayward was in the running to start on the outside, maybe even the favorite. But now I could see Shields starting there, and Hayward coming in as the slot cornerback in the nickel.

Shields also is showing up as tackler. The Packers list him at 184 pounds, but I’d guess he’s 175 soaking wet. He doesn’t take on guys high tackling. He’s a smart guy, goes low. His most impressive tackle Saturday night at St. Louis came on the Rams’icon1 first possession. It was first and 10 at the Packers’ 43, and Rams halfback Isaiah Pead ran right. Shields filled and tackled him for a two-yard gain. Shields was 10 yards away on the handoff and made the play.

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Sam Shields hopes to remain with Packers

Nothing new has surfaced between the Packers and fourth-year cornerback Sam Shields in terms of a contract extension past the one-year, $2.02 million restricted tender he’s currently operating under.

With the Packers recently extending his close friend, Morgan Burnett, for the foreseeable future, the 25-year-old cornerback would love to follow suit, but he isn’t in a rush, either.

The Packers began talks with Shields’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, during the offseason regarding a possible extension and planned to continue negotiations once Shields signed his second-round tender prior to June’s mandatory mini-camp.

“I approach it the same way,” said Shields, who didn’t take part in organized team activities. “I don’t get that in my mind about any deals. I just take it one day at a time. Right now, it’s a one-year contract, second-round tender. Whatever comes next, it comes, but right now it’s being patient and taking it one day at a time.

“Whatever decisions are after this, it happens, it happens. Right now, I’m a Packer. I love it. I want to keep continuing to be a Packer.”

In 39 games with 21 starts over three seasons, the former undrafted free agent has 102 tackles with 28 pass deflections, nine interceptions and one sack.

According to Pro Football Focus, Shields led all NFL cornerbacks in coverage last season, allowing a reception once every 16.3 snaps.

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Sam Shields hosts fundraiser

Growing up in the area through elementary and high school, Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields has seen his fair share of violence just in his old neighborhood.

Denver Broncos secondary Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could say the same, since leaving the streets of Bradenton to play in the big leagues of the NFL. But both veteran athletes are spending their offseason in a different way than most, teaming up with the Sarasota Police Department to promote the “Stop the Violence” celebrity basketball fundraiser set for tonight.

The event aims to bring awareness to crime in the community, with Shields and Rodgers-Cromartie assembling teams to face off at Booker High School at 6 p.m. Both players are using the basketball game as a fun-filled family event to help build relations in the area.

For Rodgers-Cromartie, a Bradenton native and Lakewood Ranch high school football star, coming back to Sarasota was a chance to contribute to the community.

“We spend a lot of time away from home, so every chance we get it’s good to come and give back,” he said. “Some of the guys, who were equally talented as me in high school, have fallen to the wayside because of the street life . . . it’s sad.”

Even Shields, who has grown up in Sarasota and graduated from Booker High School, has personal stories of scarring violence he has experienced.

“I was out late and saw someone get shot right in the head in front of me, and that opened up my eyes — wide open,” Shields said. “It made me think I needed to keep my life going the way it was and on a path to greater things.”

They are memories that both athletes would like to change, especially in their home areas. With hopes of a high turnout, all proceeds will go toward funding youth recreation at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex on 34th Street.

“I’ve always wanted to be that guy to come back and show love to the community,” Shields said. “Hopefully a lot of good will come out of this.”

The game will be at Booker High, 3201 North Orange Ave.. Admission is $5. Gates will open at 6 p.m., with tip-off at 7 p.m.

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Sam Shields' contract status inspires hunger games

Green Bay — The harness is off and the swagger is on. For Davon House, it's back to playing like a "(bleep)hole," as he put it last season.

In bold letters, House assured he's healthy and he plans to start in 2013.

"To me," House said, "if you think I did good last year then you have a whole other thing coming."

Looking back, if House didn't suffer a left shoulder subluxation in the preseason opener, he probably starts Week 1 at cornerback. Not Sam Shields. Instead, Shields started, finished strong and is now flirting with a long-term deal. Yet still, this 10-minute scene from Donald Driver's charity softball game — House's words marinated with vinegar — is exactly the climate the Packers hoped to build this off-season.

Shields wasn't paid. Neither was B.J. Raji. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith? He's in the waiting room, too. After shelling out millions to two players, the Packers hit the brakes. Don't assume it's by accident, either. Money, always, is a motivator. In 2013, general manager Ted Thompson has several key starters entering contract years.

Financial uncertainty hangs over Shields, Raji, Dietrich-Smith and others.

So, no, the Packers won't be too upset if House or anyone else at those respective positions talks a mean game. Every coach alive trumpets the merits of camp competition — the need to create it, nurture it and make it contagious.

In Green Bay, Thompson can simply wave a checkbook.

The last time the Packers skated through a season with so many core starters seeking long-term deals was 2010. That team was stocked with underpaid players. A.J. Hawk, Cullen Jenkins, Tramon Williams, Daryn Colledge, John Kuhn, Desmond Bishop all delivered in contract years and the Packers won a Super Bowl.

Coincidence or not, Green Bay wouldn't mind a repeat in 2013.

So far, the players entering contract years have been echoing themselves.

After one off-season practice, Jermichael Finley bit his tongue at every turn. Moments after Mike McCarthy praised the tight end for adding weight, the typically talkative, always-colorful Finley wouldn't so much as say how much he weighs. As a Green Bay public relations official leaned into the group interview, Finley kept it G-rated.

"I feel strong right now, healthy," Finley said. "I feel confident. I'm just excited."

Behind the scenes, Green Bay has not always been thrilled with Finley's candidness. With hesitation, Thompson and Russ Ball agreed to keep Finley at $8.25 million this season. And while we can debate how harmful Finley's comments actually are — note: Brian Urlacher is not on an NFL team — that first media session hinted at a tamer, quieter tight end.

On another day, Dietrich-Smith refused to acknowledge the obvious.

Yeah, he's the starter. If he picks up where he left off in 2012, he will be for a while, too. But the restricted free agent also received the one-year, $1.323 million tender, a low-ball risk by the Packers. At this level, he said, you can't assume anything.

"It doesn't matter who you are," Dietrich-Smith said. "If you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing, you could be the next guy out the door. I don't take anything for granted. Every opportunity I get, I have to prove myself."

Raji spoke at length about the importance of getting off of blocks and said he's "confident everything will take care of itself."

James Jones won't be coasting any time soon. Two years ago, he swung and missed (badly) in free agency. Teams were brutally honest with Jones' agent, saying they didn't want to pay the receiver because of his rash of drops in 2010.

Since then, Jones has had the best hands on the team.

And across the oval-shaped locker room, Shields' space was vacant through the first round of OTAs. The restricted free agent hoped to flip his five interceptions over the final seven games into a lucrative deal. Thompson wouldn't flinch, so Shields signed. Once he did return to Green Bay from Florida, the Packer message was obvious.

"I just have to ball out this year," Shields said, "and then we'll go from there."

True, with Rodgers and Matthews the richest players at their positions, Green Bay will not be able to re-sign all of the above long term. Decisions await. But for now, by showing restraint at the negotiating table, Thompson should have several players hungry for a pay raise.

Rings, trophies and legacies are absolutely motivators. But seven, eight figures isn't bad, either.


Sam Shields: 'I wanted to get paid ... It didn't happen'

GREEN BAY – Sam Shields didn’t get what he wanted, but the Green Bay Packers fourth-year cornerback said Tuesday that he’s ready to get to work.

Shields had hoped for a long-term contract from the Packers as he held off on signing his restricted free-agent tender, but as the team’s mandatory minicamp got closer, he realized it wasn’t going to happen and signed the one-year, $2.023 million deal Monday – in time to participate in Tuesday’s practice.

“That was one of my goals. It didn’t work out. I signed the tender and came back to minicamp. If I have a great year this year then it will speak for itself,” Shields said after practice Tuesday. “(There was) a little progress (on a long-term deal) but it didn’t happen. So I signed the tender and got back to work.

"I’m not that guy like, ‘I’m not coming ‘cause I didn’t get paid.’ I need to get paid, but business is business. I wanted to get paid. It didn’t happen. I came and signed the tender and I’m here now.

“I wanted to be back. I was tired of being home. I was home too long. I was just ready to sign the tender. I didn’t get what I wanted. I was like ‘it’s not going to go that much farther so I might as well sign the tender and get back."

Shields worked on a limited snap count in practice Tuesday, as did defensive end Johnny Jolly, who also made his offseason debut after missing OTAs while finalizing his legal issues in Houston.

“It’s great to have Sam back. He’s on a similar plan just as far as the limited reps just to see where he is with conditioning,” coach Mike McCarthy said, comparing Shields’ and Jolly’s workloads. “It’s a very, very competitive position at cornerback, along with other positions. This is about installation, getting the scheme in, extra time on the fundamentals. This is the learning part of the year that’s so important for development of each and every player, and Sam is definitely one of those. We have time for the competition and everything to sort itself out in training camp.”

Shields said he was at home in Florida until Sunday, when he arrived in Green Bay. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, came in on Monday and met with the Packers but a long-term deal didn’t happen. He said he hasn’t given up hope of getting a long-term deal during the season.

“You never know. It’s all on me. I’ve got to go out there and ball out. Do what I’ve been doing and it speaks for itself,” Shields said. “It was getting there, but then it wasn’t. Then, it was like, ‘Minicamp’s coming up, (I) might as well get back and sign my tender.’ Get back on the field. I didn’t want to be home too long. I was getting aggravated with my family. That happens with family, not just the family but everyone around you. I’m happy to be back and ready to rock and roll.

“I just have to ball out this year and then go from there. I want to be a Packer. I really don’t want to go anywhere else. I’ve been here. I started here and I just want to keep continuing to be with the Packers.”

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Sam Shields signs one-year tender

Earlier, we noted the 2013 financial dilemma facing Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields. Should he play this season under the terms of his $2.02 million restricted free-agent tender, or should he push hard -- presumably via skipping the offseason program -- for a long-term deal now?

It appears the sides have reached a compromise, at least for now, following a reported face-to-face meeting between agent Drew Rosenhaus and team officials. Shields signed his tender, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter and others, clearing the way for him to participate in this week's mandatory veteran minicamp.

The decision could be interpreted in a variety of ways, but for now it's a good-faith move from Shields. There is nothing preventing the sides from continuing negotiations on a long-term deal if they want. The Packers, of course, have plenty of options at the position in Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward and Davon House. At the very least, however, they can now get a look at all of them during the remainder of the offseason program.

Last season, Shields intercepted three passes during the regular season and two more in the playoffs, including one he returned 52 yards for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers.

A shin injury forced him from six games, however, and he played on only 53.9 percent of the Packers' defensive snaps.

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Sam Shields a no-show at Packers' OTA

Green Bay --- The most noticeable absentee from Tuesday's voluntary organized team activity wasn't a major surprise --- Packers cornerback Sam Shields.

A restricted free agent, Shields has not signed his tender with the team. Coach Mike McCarthy would not offer a specific reason for Shields not practicing, but Shields is likely eyeing a lucrative long-term deal.

“Sam Shields is a young player and our program speaks for itself and how young players develop year to year," McCarthy said. "I wish Sam was here. He’s not here for his specific reasons that I’m sure if he wants to answer them, he can answer them. It’s about the opportunity to compete and our secondary is very competitive. I wish he was here.”

Given the second-round tender, Shields would make $2.023 million in 2013 if he signed.

Deep at cornerback, the Packers have leverage in contract talks. Second-year cornerback Casey Hayward worked with the No. 1 defense opposite Tramon Williams. Also, Davon House is expected to compete for a starting job and Green Bay drafted Micah Hyde in the fifth round of this year's NFL draft. With Hayward and House, the Packers may not be quick to budge.

Shields did finish last season strong. Upon returning from a high ankle sprain, he finished with four interceptions and 11 pass break-ups in his final six games.
One of Shields' closest friends on the team, safety Morgan Burnett, says he has kept in touch with the corner. Burnett said the two haven't talked much about football, instead catching up on each others' off-seasons.

To Burnett, it is strange not to have Shields in the secondary.

"Yeah, it's different not seeing Sam because you all pretty much know that's who I'm with all the time," Burnett said. "So it's different not having Sam here, but hopefully he'll be here soon and I'll have my buddy back."

In Hayward and House, the Packers do have other options to turn to right now.

Working from the slot as a rookie, Hayward led the team in interceptions (six) and pass break-ups (21). Battling a shoulder injury, House showed promise when healthy, too. He had 26 tackles, one sack and five break-ups last year. Possibly as precaution, House did not participate at Tuesday's OTA.

"Those guys are very athletic," Burnett said. "Casey, from his play this past season, he's a ball hawk capable of making plays. House is a big corner. He makes plays. It's an honor just to be around these guys because they're very athletic and they challenge you to get better and compete because you don't want to let those guys down because they're very athletic and make plays, so it challenges you to do your job."

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Packers will retain Sam Shields

Restricted free agent cornerback Sam Shields will return to the Packers.

An NFL source said Shields did not sign any offer sheets from other teams. Today was the deadline for restricted free agents to do so.

Now, it's just a matter of whether he will play this season for the restricted free agent tender or a long-term contract. According to the source, Shields has not signed his tender with the Packers yet. Shields would prefer to return under a long-term deal, if possible.

The Packers put a second-round tender on him. That's worth $2.023 million this season. Had another team signed Shields to an offer sheet and the Packers declined to match it, they would have received a second-round pick as compensation.

Shields entered the league as an undrafted free agent. Had they put the low tender on him, they would have had to pay him only $1.323 million but would not have received any compensation if another team signed him.

Shields started 10 games last season, including both playoff games, and was their best cover corner. He allowed completions just 37.2 percent of the times he was targeted and gave up only one touchdown in the regular season, according to STATS.

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Sam Shields, Pack still talking extension

The Packers are still talking with restricted free agent CB Sam Shields about a long-term contract.

Nothing is imminent as Shields is at least third in line for a new deal behind Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. There's no urgency because he'll eventually sign the one-year, $2.02M RFA tender. Per Pro Football Focus, Shields graded out as a top-eight corner in coverage last year.

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Packers' Whitt praises Sam Shields, sees open CB competition in 2013

Green Bay — There will be no guarantees at cornerback for the Packers in 2013. On Tuesday, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. made that much clear. When players report back to Green Bay, four cornerbacks may engage in an open competition.

Whitt praised the improvement of third-year corner Sam Shields and indicated that Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward and Davon House will all have an opportunity to start next season.

“It’s going to be interesting to see who are going to be the guys who run out there on Day One,” Whitt said, “because right now I couldn’t tell you who’s going to do what because the way that Sam and Casey have played. And with Tramon and House there, there’s four guys that are vying for two spots. Maybe three with nickel. It will be interesting to see who gets it.”

Making things is interesting is Shields. After a strong finish this season, he may be ready to take on the opposition's top wide receiver next season. Upon returning from his high ankle sprain Dec. 9, Shields' performance "was comparable, if not better than Tramon’s in 2010," Whitt said. In 2010, Williams' string of big plays helped the Packers reach the Super Bowl.

Of course, it was only one year ago Shields was plagued by missed tackles.

Whitt said Shields cut his missed tackles by half this season and called him the best tackler on the team.

“Him and (Jarrett Bush) are the most physical corners that we have, but he’s the best tackling one that we have,” Whitt said. “He put that on film. That’s not me talking. …The only reason I’m talking about it is because he took so much criticism in the way he performed last year through training camp. And to come back and play — especially the last six games — the way that he’s played, I think is very encouraging to what he can be in the future.”

In Shields’ final six games, he had 21 tackles, 11 pass break-ups and four interceptions. He opened up Green Bay’s loss at San Francisco with a pick returned for a touchdown.

Whitt wouldn’t say that Williams -- the team’s No. 1 cornerback since 2010 -- necessarily had a down season. The coach said he still "graded out pretty well." But Shields’ finish and Hayward’s standout rookie season has made things interesting heading into next season.

Excelling in the slot, the second-round pick from Vanderbilt finished fifth in the NFL with six interceptions.

"Casey probably played better than anyone, and you all, expected him to play and probably played better than I expected him to play," Whitt said. "So the competition in the room has gotten better. So that’s the case.

“I believe in not allowing anybody to be comfortable. We don’t work in a business where we can get comfortable. And so, the guys, I always say their play will dictate who runs through the tunnel. The guys that play the best will play, that practice the best, that have the best test. We’re about winning championships and we fell short. That’s our charge.”

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Sam Shields receives second-round tender from Packers

The Packers made it more difficult for restricted free agent CB Sam Shields to find his pot of gold after slapping the second-round tender on him, according to multiple reports.

As a result of receiving the middle of three possible tenders, worth $2.023 million over one year, the compensation level set for any team wanting to sign Shields is a second-round pick. If Shields were to sign an offer sheet, the Packers would have the option of matching the offer or accepting the second-round pick.

Last month, several personnel evaluators  predicted that Shields would receive the second-round tender. After a poor start to the 2013 season, Shields won back a starting position and went on to have a very good season, improving as both a cover man and as a tackler.

Shields does not have the reputation around the NFL as a sure thing, but his upside is big because he's arguably the fastest player on the team and is a relative novice at the position given he mostly played wide receiver and special teams at the University of Miami.

"(Shields is a) very good role player as a third corner, but he is small and more than likely it's safe to assume he will have some injuries because of the lack of size," one personnel director said. "This is a tough one that I'm glad we don't have to ponder this year.

"I am guessing they will do the two and will always have the (match) if someone does offer and they want to keep him."

The reports on Shields - from both ProFootballTalk and -- receiving the second-round tender are very likely accurate given Shields' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, because it's well known that he generally talks only to those two outlets. It is unclear whether Rosenhaus has spoken to the Packers about a long-term deal.

At the combine last month, Rosenhaus declined to talk about Shields' situation.

The Packers are not taking the same risk with Shields that they are taking with C Evan Dietrich-Smith, who received the low tender on Monday. Dietrich-Smith also wasn't drafted so there is no compensation tied to him and the best the Packers could do if he were to receive an offer sheet is to match it.

With Shields getting the second-round tender and Dietrich-Smith the low tender, the Packers have used $3.346 million of salary cap money on restricted free agents. They have three other RFAs in TE Tom Crabtree, LB Robert Francois and LB Frank Zombo.

Francois and Zombo are not likely to be tendered and will become free agents. The Packers may try to re-sign them after they are let go. It's unclear whether they intend to tender Crabtree.

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Packers face tough decision on Sam Shields

Green Bay - Free agency means different things to different people.

In the case of the Green Bay Packers, it doesn't mean sifting through options and targeting prizes as much as managing a system that requires every team to make critical decisions about its future.

In the case of cornerback Sam Shields and possibly center Evan Dietrich-Smith, it means getting ready to move into a new tax bracket.

The focus in NFL free agency typically lands on unrestricted free agents like Joe Flacco, Greg Jennings, Steven Jackson and Wes Welker, but when the NFL calendar year begins March 12, the Packers will be investing a solid chunk of change in at least four of their five restricted free agents.

To maintain the rights to a restricted free agent - anyone with three years of experience whose contract has expired - a team must submit one of three qualifying offers, each of which comes attached with a level of compensation a team must pay for signing one of these free agents.

In the case of Shields and Dietrich-Smith, the Packers will have to decide whether to use the top or middle tender offer.

The highest tender sets compensation at a first-round pick, the middle tender sets it at a second-round pick and the low tender sets it at the round in which the player was drafted. In any of the three cases, the original team has the right to match any offer made to its restricted free agent.

The difficult part for general manager Ted Thompson is that both Shields and Dietrich-Smith were not drafted, so if the low tender is placed on them, there would be no compensation awarded if the Packers didn't match the offer.

Shields took his game to a starter's level and anyone who saw him pick off San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and return it for a touchdown in the Packers' divisional playoff loss knows he's for real. One element of the game the 5-11, 184-pound Shields improved on the most was his tackling, something his fellow starter, Tramon Williams, did not do well at last year.

After the 49ers loss, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt praised Shields for his improvement from 2011, especially after coming back from a high ankle sprain.

"To come back and play - especially the last six games - the way that he's played, I think is very encouraging to what he can be in the future," Whitt said.

Arguably, Shields could be the team's No. 1 corner next year given his much sought-after skill set, willingness to tackle and experience. But he still has to prove he can be as consistent in coverage as Williams and not have the mental lapses that resulted in him giving up big plays.

Regardless, the Packers are going to have to protect themselves either by offering him one of the two highest tenders or signing him to a long-term deal. The latter will be discussed, but a decision on which tender is offered will most likely have to be made.

Here's the difficult part about setting the compensation at a first-round pick: It requires a one-year offer of $2,879,000. For Shields, it would mean an increase in salary of more than $2.3 million from 2012.

If the Packers use the second-round tender, his salary would be $2,023,000, which is an increase of roughly $1.45 million. The lowest tender, which would present a huge risk if given to Shields, carries a one-year salary of $1,323,000.

Two NFL personnel directors and two agents with Packers clients all said they thought Shields was deserving of a second-round tender. The fact that not a single restricted free agent has changed teams since 2008 and none has signed an offer sheet since '09 signifies how little restricted free agency is used.

In most cases, teams submit offers to lesser-known players, hoping to get a bargain. The last Packer to sign a tender offer was cornerback Jarrett Bush in 2009. The Packers ended up matching it.

"(Shields is a) very good role player as a third corner, but he is small and more than likely it's safe to assume he will have some injuries because of the lack of size," one personnel director said. "This is a tough one that I'm glad we don't have to ponder this year.

"I am guessing they will do the two and will always have the (match) if someone does offer and they want to keep him."

Another factor in making an offer to Shields is setting the market for a long-term deal. If the Packers use a first-round tender on Shields, agent Drew Rosenhaus has an admission by the team that Shields is worth big money, which he can use to his advantage at the bargaining table.

"Shields? High-tender, I'll bet," one of the agents said. "I wouldn't though. There's lots of UFA (unrestricted free agent) cornerbacks (available) and no one ever moves."

Whatever the case, the tenders do affect the Packers' salary cap. It will cost them roughly $2.4 million against the cap per player to offer the first, $1.6 million to offer the second and $850,000 to offer the low.

In addition to Shields and Dietrich-Smith, the Packers' other restricted free agents are tight end Tom Crabtree, linebacker Robert Francois and linebacker Frank Zombo. If tenders aren't made to any of those players, they automatically become unrestricted free agents.

Dietrich-Smith is another player Thompson is going to have to think long and hard about. He moved into a starting role at the end of last year and is looked upon as the center of the future, so losing him would be a huge blow to the offensive line.

If Thompson offers the low tender, he can always match the offer, thereby letting some other team negotiate a long-term deal for him. However, there are other teams seeking centers and the best ones available in free agency are restricted, so the chance to sign one without having to give up any compensation could result in a deal the Packers don't want to pay.

If the Packers put the second-round tender on both Shields and Dietrich-Smith it would cost them $3.2 million in salary cap dollars. They are certain to offer at least the low-round tenders to Crabtree and Francois, which would tack on another $1.7 million. It's doubtful they'll make an offer to Zombo, although they could re-sign him at a lower wage once he becomes a free agent.

After cutting safety Charles Woodson, the Packers are nearly $21 million under the salary cap. That total does not include the restricted free agent tenders, which would count against the cap as soon as the calendar year begins.

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Packers' Whitt praises Sam Shields

Green Bay — There will be no guarantees at cornerback for the Packers in 2013. On Tuesday, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. made that much clear. When players report back to Green Bay, four cornerbacks may engage in an open competition.

Whitt praised the improvement of third-year corner Sam Shields and indicated that Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward and Davon House will all have an opportunity to start next season.

“It’s going to be interesting to see who are going to be the guys who run out there on Day One,” Whitt said, “because right now I couldn’t tell you who’s going to do what because the way that Sam and Casey have played. And with Tramon and House there, there’s four guys that are vying for two spots. Maybe three with nickel. It will be interesting to see who gets it.”

Making things is interesting is Shields. After a strong finish this season, he may be ready to take on the opposition's top wide receiver next season. Upon returning from his high ankle sprain Dec. 9, Shields' performance "was comparable, if not better than Tramon’s in 2010," Whitt said. In 2010, Williams' string of big plays helped the Packers reach the Super Bowl.

Of course, it was only one year ago Shields was plagued by missed tackles.

Whitt said Shields cut his missed tackles by half this season and called him the best tackler on the team.

“Him and (Jarrett Bush) are the most physical corners that we have, but he’s the best tackling one that we have,” Whitt said. “He put that on film. That’s not me talking. …The only reason I’m talking about it is because he took so much criticism in the way he performed last year through training camp. And to come back and play — especially the last six games — the way that he’s played, I think is very encouraging to what he can be in the future.”

In Shields’ final six games, he had 21 tackles, 11 pass break-ups and four interceptions. He opened up Green Bay’s loss at San Francisco with a pick returned for a touchdown.

Whitt wouldn’t say that Williams -- the team’s No. 1 cornerback since 2010 -- necessarily had a down season. The coach said he still "graded out pretty well." But Shields’ finish and Hayward’s standout rookie season has made things interesting heading into next season.

Excelling in the slot, the second-round pick from Vanderbilt finished fifth in the NFL with six interceptions.

"Casey probably played better than anyone, and you all, expected him to play and probably played better than I expected him to play," Whitt said. "So the competition in the room has gotten better. So that’s the case.

“I believe in not allowing anybody to be comfortable. We don’t work in a business where we can get comfortable. And so, the guys, I always say their play will dictate who runs through the tunnel. The guys that play the best will play, that practice the best, that have the best test. We’re about winning championships and we fell short. That’s our charge.”

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Sam Shields Earns Game Ball

The Green Bay Packers coaching staff awarded four game balls from the NFC Wild Card playoff victory over the Vikings on Saturday night. They went to FB John Kuhn on offense, LB Clay Matthews and CB Sam Shields on defense, and rookie LB Terrell Manning on special teams.

Shields was credited by the press box statisticians with seven tackles, a team high. He also broke up two passes and had an interception, the third of his career in the postseason.

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PHOTO: Sam Shields Wild Card Weekend Interception


Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37) celebrates his interception with teammate Tramon Williams (38) during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Minnesota Vikings Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

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