GREEN BAY, Wis. — Versatility has always been a valuable attribute that Micah Hyde has had on the football field.
Hyde saw playing time at cornerback and safety at the University of Iowa, and now his vast knowledge in the defensive secondary is starting to reap benefits in the NFL. The Green Bay Packers drafted Hyde in the fifth round (No. 159 overall) of April’s draft in hopes of getting some depth in their 3-4 scheme. What Green Bay has seen from its rookie is much more than it bargained for.
With future Hall of Fame cornerback Charles Woodson being released in the offseason and injuries to key contributors in the Packers’ secondary, Hyde has gotten a shot early in training camp to show why he was a solid three-year starter for the Hawkeyes.
During the Packers’ Family Night, the team’s annual intrasquad scrimmage on Aug. 3, Hyde was the nickel cornerback for the No. 1 defense. In the Packers’ preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 9, Hyde was tied for a team high with five tackles as a reserve cornerback, but was beaten on a fade route for a touchdown.
Hyde — who is the 14th player from the University of Iowa to ever be drafted by the Packers — is listed as a cornerback in the Packers’ media guide, but he’s getting plenty of reps at safety and that’s helping him get a lot more opportunities to play.
“In this league, it just enables your value to go up,” said Packers starting left cornerback Tramon Williams. “He’s a smart kid. He’s come in and picked up the defense well. He’s playing outside corner, he’s playing nickel, learning dime. He has quite a bit on his plate right now and he’s doing an excellent job out there on the field. He’s going to have a bright future.”
Starting safety M.D. Jennings is also impressed with Hyde’s ability to line up and defend at both cornerback and safety.
“It’s big to be able to play more than one position,” Jennings said. “He can come inside, go outside and he can mix it. He’s good at either position. It’s a real big bonus.”
Hyde, who started the final 38 straight games of his career at Iowa, knows his best shot at being a contributor this year for the Packers might be on special teams. Hyde, who started on punt return in the Packers’ preseason opener last week, has embraced that role because being a rookie in the NFL means starting from scratch.
It’s all about earning playing time.
“You do it at every level,” Hyde said. “Bottom of the totem pole again. You’ve got to work your way up and you do that by going out there every day and competing. As the weeks go on, the days go on, the years go on, whenever it’s your time, you’ve got to go out there and compete. You’ve got to show the coaches they can trust you can play.”
Early on, Hyde’s already made an impression on Joe Whitt. The cornerbacks coach believes Hyde’s play has been the same during the first two weeks of training camp, but circumstances have changed.
“The thing that from the side that I think you (reporters) have to realize a little bit, that first week he was running more with the 2s, so he probably flashed a little bit more. And now he’s in there with the 1s all the time,” Whitt said. “So he has (No.) 12, A-Rod (quarterback Aaron Rodgers), throwing him the ball … you don’t make that many plays on A-Rod. You’re not going to intercept him as much as you’re going to intercept other guys. But he’s been in position, he’s doing the right things, his communication has been good. So I’ve been pleased with his progression. He still has a ways to go, but he’s still shown that it’s not too big for him and he has a poise about him.”
Hyde’s also showing his teammates he’s ready for any challenge that’s in front of him.
“He’s coming along real good,” Jennings said. “He’s a young guy and he gets out there and he gets vocal. He’s always asking questions, trying to figure out what’s going on. I’ve seen him get to the ball. He’s always around the ball, getting tips and things like that.”
Hyde never shied away from the ball during his tenure at Iowa. He corralled eight interceptions in his last three seasons, returning two for touchdowns as a sophomore.
The Packers are hoping Hyde can have the same impact cornerback Casey Hayward had last season as a rookie when he started seven games in spot duty due to injuries and amassed six interceptions. Jennings thinks Hyde’s ball-hawking ability is very similar to Hayward’s.
After competing in the Packers’ rookie orientation camp, minicamp and organized team activities, Hyde is starting to feel comfortable in training camp and is coming into his own.
“I think I fit in really well,” Hyde said. “I’m just trying to learn from older guys every day. … I just try to go out there and try not to make mistakes. If I do make a mistake, learn from it and not make it again.”
Hyde feels the toughest aspect during his transition to the NFL isn’t even related to on-field work.
“I don’t think it’s anything physical, I just think it’s more mental,” Hyde said. “The terminology that we have now in this playbook, it’s a lot more complicated, it’s a lot more plays. I think that was the hardest thing, knowing the terminology and the little techniques that go with it.”
Hyde has taken a lot of time to talk with and get pointers from the other Packers defensive backs. It’s a continual learning process, but the veterans are teaching Hyde to just go out and play football to the best of his ability.
“They try to make it as easy as possible to just go out there and play and not think,” Hyde said. “These guys, T (Tramon Williams) and Sam (Shields) and (Davon) House and Casey (Hayward) and J.B. (Jarrett Bush), they’re all freaks out there. They’re making plays all over the field. They’re all really good players and I’m trying to learn something from each and every one of them. Just go out there and compete and do what I can every day.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football