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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