It's all well and fine that it was Micah Hyde working with the first-string defense at safety during the Green Bay Packers' offseason program.
After all, Hyde is the veteran. Even though he didn't play safety a year ago, his knowledge of the Packers defense is still vastly superior to that of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at this moment in time.
No jobs are going to be won and lost in the month of June, so the fact that Clinton-Dix was relegated to backup status was hardly anything to be worried about.
However, there's a reason the Packers made Clinton-Dix their first round draft pick a little over a month ago. They don't expect him to be sitting on the sidelines, soaking up knowledge for long.
At some point in time, preferably early in training camp, the Alabama product has to take the bull by the horns and assert himself as the starter.
Making Hyde an addition to the safety group was a terrific idea. Beyond Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett, there's no other safey on the roster so much as guaranteed a roster spot.
At the very minimum, Hyde provides depth at a position badly in need of it. But there's reason to believe his best position on the field is at one of the slot cornerback spots, where he excelled a season ago.
Hyde's strong suits are getting up in a defender's face, using his aggressiveness in the box, tackling both receivers and running backs, being a threat to either cover or blitz.
Clinton-Dix, meanwhile, was drafted because of his 6' 1", 208 lbs. frame, which will allow him to stack up with the new breed of NFL tight end running routes up the seam.
He was drafted because of his rangy style of play, his ability to get from centerfield to sideline.
Any time the Packers are in their base 3-4 defense, and really any time they're employing a roaming, free safety, it's Clinton-Dix's skill set that suits their needs.
There's still a role for Hyde on this Packers defense, but it's part of their subpackage defenses in the nickel and dime that fit him the best.
Admittedly, the best players need to be out on the field, regardless of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each individual. If Clinton-Dix is simply not ready for primetime in Week 1 when the Packers take on the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, then the coaching staff can't put him out there at the expense of a more prepared player.
But it would be extremely disappointing if Clinton-Dix does not start to make his presence felt soon after the start of training camp on July 26.
Clinton-Dix has had the entirety of Organized Team Activities and minicamp to learn the terminology and Dom Capers' defense from a mental standpoint.
When the pads come on in training camp, it will be time for him to stake his claim to the safety position from a physical and playmaking perspective.
The Packers have gotten minimal first-year production from their last three first round draft choices: Derek Sherrod, Nick Perry and Datone Jones. It's time for Clinton-Dix to break that streak.
In order to make a leap from its subpar performance a season ago, the Packers defense needs it.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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