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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