The big news for the Green Bay Packers on the injury front is that Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson will likely be returning to the field on Sunday. On a quieter note, however, they already received a boost on defense from a returning player.
Cornerback Sam Shields played for the first time in almost two months. He left the Houston Texans game in Week 6 with what was originally called a shin injury, but later listed as an ankle injury. He seemed primed to return in Week 12, but suffered a setback.
Shields didn’t appear too rusty in the victory over the Detroit Lions, intercepting Matthew Stafford at a key point in the game. With just a few minutes left in the first half, Detroit was looking to extend its 14-10 lead. Shields’ interception, although it didn’t lead to points for Green Bay, kept the Packers within one score and changed the momentum going into halftime.
The young secondary played exceptionally well in Shields’ absence, particularly Davon House and Casey Hayward. Those two have certainly earned playing time and deserve to be on the field, but I like Shields in the starting position. He’s been awesome in coverage in the games he’s played. Considering how many sub packages the Green Bay defense likes to use, it’s likely that Shields and Hayward or House will be on the field at the same time, which creates a dynamic, athletic, and energetic secondary that has been a lot of fun to watch.
With an ailing defensive line, more is being asked of the secondary, who have to guard their men as long as the opposing quarterbacks can avoid pressure from the Green Bay pass rush (i.e. a loooooooong time). Despite this added stress, the secondary has been exceptional. The return of Shields only makes it that much stronger.