We’ve been looking forward to Charles Woodson‘s return from a broken collarbone for some time. That will happen Saturday and with the Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson on the docket for the second week in a row, the Green Bay Packers need Woodson.
One of the questions surrounding Woodson’s return — other than whether he’ll be rusty — is what role he’ll play?
Before his injury, Woodson started at safety alongside Morgan Burnett. He moved to slot cornerback in the Packers nickel package while M.D. Jennings took over at safety. Since the injury, rookie Casey Hayward has taken over the slot position in the nickel and become one of the Packers top playmakers on defense.
Hayward and his team-leading six interceptions won’t be relinquishing that role.
“They’re similar in a lot of things that they do, so they’ll both be out there at the same time,” Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. “Wood will play safety sometimes, he’ll play dime. He really won’t play as much nickel because we’re comfortable with what Casey has done in that role and he’s comfortable with it. He sees how Casey has played and knows we want to have our best 11 out there at all times.”
That doesn’t mean Woodson won’t be on the field in the nickel. Instead, he’ll remain at safety and Jennings will remain on the bench, which, against Peterson is probably better for everyone not on the Vikings. Woodson is great in run support and the Vikings have shown a tendency to run even when they require a large chunk of yards.
Woodson will shift to the slot cornerback position in the Packers dime defense.
Overall, the strategy should help contain Peterson (if that’s possible) and puts an additional playmaker on the field. It also speaks to how highly the Packers think of Hayward.
Frankly, after his performance last week, we wouldn’t mind if Woodson started in place of Tramon Williams.