The Green Bay Packers are coming off a frustrating, disappointing 2022 season that saw them finish 8-9 and miss the playoffs. Now, they are moving forward to a future without Aaron Rodgers and other established veterans. Due to their tight salary cap, they will be relying on current players to have bounce-back years in the hopes that it will propel them back into postseason contention. This is especially true on defense, which saw the unit struggle as a whole last season. During his media session at the annual NFL owners’ meetings, head coach Matt LaFleur revealed some shocking plans for two key defensive players: Rasul Douglas and Keisean Nixon.
Rasul Douglas Will Start at Cornerback for the Green Bay Packers
Due to the Packers’ lack of depth at the safety position, many analysts and fans have used social media to play with the idea that Rasul Douglas would move to safety. The premise of that idea was the Eric Stokes would be back from his season-ending ankle injury, making a possible move to safety possible for Douglas.
LaFleur, however, said that would not be the case:
Matt LaFleur says Rasul Douglas' best position is outside corner. He thinks Douglas can play safety, but he won't start there this spring. "He definitely has the intelligence and ability to play wherever, but for us he's best when he plays outside."
— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) March 28, 2023
Since joining the Packers, Douglas has recorded nine interceptions. He had a total of four in his first four seasons combined. It is clear that the role he has been given on the Packers is certainly the best for him.
Unfortunately, LaFleur’s decision was also made due to an unfortunate injury update for Eric Stokes.
matt lafleur said that the packers are hoping to have eric stokes back in the lineup “as soon as possible,” which… doesn’t sound encouraging. he sustained a significant, season-ending ankle injury on nov. 6 in detroit.
— zach jacobson (@itszacharyj) March 28, 2023
From the sound of it, Stokes needed some more work on his injured ankle this offseason. For a player whose trademark is speed, this could be devastating for his career. Hopefully he is able to rehab back to full strength and make a full recovery.
Keisean Nixon Will Get a Chance to Play Nickel for the Green Bay Packers
Of course, Keisean Nixon is best-known for his kick returning abilities. He was a First-Team All-Pro as a returner last season, but could see his role expanded in 2023. Perhaps due to the Stokes injury and lack of safeties, Darnell Savage will be a starting safety after losing the job in 2022. This move means that Nixon will get to compete for a role as the defense’s nickelback.
LaFleur says Darnell Savage will start out at safety and Rasul Douglas at outside corner. Keisean Nixon will get every opportunity to win the nickel job.
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) March 28, 2023
Nixon did play sparingly on defense last season, and played relatively well when given the opportunity. While playing just 28% of the defense’s snaps, he recorded one interception, two pass deflections, and a forced fumble. Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 85.7 when targeting Nixon, which is pretty respectable all things considered.
LaFleur ended his press conference with this bomb:
And LaFleur ended with this: Get ready for a Keisean Nixon package on offense.
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) March 28, 2023
Tyler Ervin used to be used in gadget situations on the Packers’ offense while primarily serving as the team’s kick and punt returner. That being said, if Nixon is returning kicks (which he should) and playing significant snaps on defense, I do not believe there will be many offensive plays that include him.
It is fun to think about, though.
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