Sam Shields

The Green Bay Packers had an open competition for their starting cornerback positions, which is one of the deepest groups on the team. Sam Shields will be manning one of those spots on opening day.

“The way (Shields) has 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, if not the top one,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said Wednesday. “It’d be hard for me to believe that. Just the way that he’s performed and the things that he’s done.”

Shields was arguably the Packers best cornerback last season, although Tramon Williams was the team’s unofficial No. 1 corner. Williams usually lined up against the opposition’s top receiver, but for the second season in a row his play was uneven.

This season, the Packers aren’t going to line up a specific guy against the opposition’s top receiver. Whitt and defensive coordinator Dom Capers have decided to keep their starting corners on their respective sides of the field.

The question now becomes, who is the starter opposite Shields?

Williams and second-year man Casey Hayward are the frontrunners, although neither has played in a preseason game yet because of injuries. Hayward looks like he’ll be able to go this week and if he plays well, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be the other starter.

Hayward led the Packers with six picks last season, playing mostly from the slot.

That could push Williams to the nickel back, further down the depth chart or maybe even off the roster. The Packers have two more capable guys in Davon House, who had the inside track to start last season before suffering a shoulder injury early in camp, and rookie Micah Hyde, who’s been impressive in camp.

The Packers also still have Jarrett Bush on the roster and although he’s not the greatest corner, he is a special teams ace and will be hard to cut.

This will certainly be interesting to watch over the next week.