Loaded cornerback room ‘good problem to have’

Valentine fighting for fifth corner, Owens competing for starting safety
Luke Reimer

Darnell Savage has been a mainstay at the starting free safety spot for the Packers for the last couple of years, but with Adrian Amos now in New York, Savage will have a new running mate in 2023.

Jonathan Owens, who Green Bay signed in the offseason, is currently slated in that No. 1 spot. In Houston last season, Owens totaled 125 combined tackles giving optimism that he can make up for the 102 combined tackles lost with Amos. Other safeties in contention for that starting spot are Tarvarious Moore, Rudy Ford, Anthony Johnson Jr. and Dalin Leavit. With Leavit being used primarily on special teams and Johnson being a late round rookie, it seems likely Owens, Moore and Ford are fighting for the final spot.

“Competition is always great, especially this time of the year in training camp,” said Packers defensive coordinator Joe Berry. “They have an opening at the second safety spot — it is open completion and now, you are talking Rudy (Ford), you are talking T-Moore (Moore), we are talking J.O. (Owens), and we have given all of those guys opportunities based on the day to go with the first group and that will continue.”

Continuing on with the defensive backfield, Berry commented on seventh-round rookie Carrington Valentine’s strong play throughout the summer.

“He has done some good things three weeks into camp, so we have two more weeks and hopefully he continues,” said Berry.

While adding Valentine seems like a very easy decision, the Packers currently have one of the most crowded defensive back rooms in the league. Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Keisean Nixon figure to start the season. That also leaves out 2021 first-round pick Eric Stokes, who figures to miss start of the season with an ankle injury. A fifth spot is open there though and that may be just what Valentine needs to sneak into a loaded room, where he can learn from some of the best players in the NFL.

“Different packages,” said Berry, when asked how he manages all of the cornerbacks this season. “In this league, corners and pass rushers are a premium, so I think the more that you have, the better it is, so we are just going to keep grinding every single day. (Valentine) has had some opportunities, (Alexander) has been in and out with an injury, so it opened the door for Valentine to be able to get some reps with the first group and he has responded and done a nice job. Hopefully Stokes gets back soon. Those are good problems to have.”