GREEN BAY – Cornerback Davon House wants to get back to doing what he does best, and that’s getting physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage.
That’s what he plans to do upon returning to Green Bay.
The Packers have signed House as a free agent, and now, after a two-year stint in Jacksonville, he’s back with the franchise that drafted him in the fourth round in 2011.
His first year with the Jaguars in 2015 with a hefty new contract was “a season to remember,” he said – four interceptions and a team-record 23 pass breakups, which ranked third in the league.
But Jacksonville’s emphasis on man-to-man coverage changed last year, according to House, and so did his game. It led to him losing his starting job and looking for a new team heading into his seventh NFL season.
“It was frustrating, but there was nothing I could do about it,” House said in a phone interview Wednesday with packers.com. “The defensive coaches played a lot more zone. As you know, I’m a bump-and-run corner. Press man-to-man, that’s what I do.
“When you’re playing press man, they’re going to try someone, and my first year in Jacksonville they wanted to try me and I made them pay for it.”
Ironically, House’s sour second season in Jacksonville began with one of Green Bay’s highlight-reel plays. On Sept. 11 in the stifling Florida heat, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw off of one foot with a Jaguars defender draped on him, and Davante Adams made a spectacular, diving 29-yard touchdown catch in the final moments of the first half.
House was all over Adams on the play, but it didn’t matter. When the Chargers’ Travis Benjamin made a sliding 45-yard TD grab the next week in a blowout, House could sense the coaches weren’t pleased with him, even though he chalked both up to “good throw, good catch.”
But House is putting the past behind him. It’s even easier to do so coming back to a place he’s considered home.
“They’re the team that drafted me,” House said. “I won’t say I regretted (leaving), but I rooted for Green Bay until the day we played them Week 1 last year. I was still a fan and will be for the rest of my life.”
Now his focus is on helping the Packers return to the Super Bowl. When Green Bay showed interest in bringing him back, it wasn’t a tough decision.
“Winning is important in this part of my career,” House said. “The offense is rolling right now with the pieces they’ve got. With Aaron at quarterback, you have a chance to win every week, and the defense isn’t missing much.
“Nick’s back. Clay’s back. Mike D’s getting better. Ha Ha and Morgan are one of the best safety tandems in the league. It all made sense to me.”
Barring another veteran free-agent signing by the Packers, House will be the elder statesman in Green Bay’s cornerback room, and he welcomes the responsibility that comes with that.
He spoke of Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins “getting healthy” and LaDarius Gunter playing a style similar to his. It’s a group he looks forward to being a part of, and if his experience adds something off the field as well as on, all the better.
“All it is, is passing down the knowledge I know, and I’m willing to do that,” he said. “I did that my first year in Jacksonville, the knowledge I learned from Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Jarrett Bush and Charles Woodson when I was a rookie.”
House also can’t wait to continue learning from Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. The two already have spoken about the upcoming reunion when players report for offseason workouts in about a month, and House sees the relationship picking up right where it left off.
“Joe’s believed in me since I was a rookie,” House said. “He saw my potential. There are few coaches who are mentors to me in football and outside of football, and Joe is one of them. What an opportunity to go back to Green Bay to a guy who deserves to be a ‘DC’ and have him as my position coach. It’s a blessing.
“My thoughts were if he’s still there, I definitely want to be there. He can bring my game to another level.”
House isn’t afraid to admit he missed a lot of things about Green Bay – among them his teammates, the fans, and “how winning matters.”
“How Coach McCarthy, the things he said before games, how confident he was, him believing in all 53 people on the roster,” House said. “It’s special and it took me to leave to find out how special it really was.
“I’m excited to go out there during OTAs and training camp and show my teammates and old friends – Jordy, Randall, Ha Ha, Mike D – how much better I’ve gotten since I left. When I got my first chance starting a full year in Jacksonville, look what I did. I can’t wait to show them what I’ve got this year.”