GREEN BAY—Packers rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix readily admitted he wasn’t pleased with how he played in his NFL debut last week in Seattle.
If that weren’t motivation enough for Week 2, perhaps Clinton-Dix got some more on Wednesday when Jets Coach Rex Ryan said the Jets – with the option at pick No. 18 to make Louisville’s Calvin Pryor or Clinton-Dix the top safety in the 2014 draft – “took the guy that will knock your face in.”
Ryan did say the Jets “would have been happy with either guy,” but the implication is they viewed Pryor as the more aggressive and harder-hitting player. With the two safeties about to take the same field this weekend, Clinton-Dix repeated on Wednesday what he said at the scouting combine, that he takes nothing away from Pryor but he’s not about to be sold short on his own hitting ability.
“I’m not afraid to do that at all, and you’re going to continue to see that out of me,” said Clinton-Dix, whom the Packers selected at No. 21 overall, three picks after Pryor was selected. “If that’s what they thought, then hey, that’s up on him, and I’m going to show him.”
Clinton-Dix also wants to show that he’s a much more consistent, reliable player than he was in Week 1.
The good came early, as he closed fast and chased a scrambling Seahawks QB Russell Wilson out of bounds for a zero-yard sack. Not long after, he recovered a fumble on special teams when Seattle muffed a punt.
But he also dropped a possible interception on a deep ball and missed a couple of open-field tackles, including Ricardo Lockette’s 33-yard catch-and-run TD in the second quarter. On the play, with Wilson running a read-option fake to the running back, Clinton-Dix was slow to rotate over into Lockette’s area.
Upon reviewing the film, Clinton-Dix said he should have kept his feet moving and taken another step or two closer to Lockette before diving at his far leg. It’s not an easy tackle to make, but it’s one Clinton-Dix knows he must make in that situation.
“No doubt it is. It’s something I have to deal with,” he said. “It hurt me bad, but I watched the film, got over it and I’m moving forward.”
He’s doing so with no confidence wounds, either. Clinton-Dix, who isn’t starting but is playing in sub-packages when Micah Hyde moves into the slot, said he’s comfortable with the defensive playbook, and the more he gets into the NFL routine of working on the weekly game plan, the faster and more instinctive he’ll be able to play.
“You’re going to see it, week in and week out,” he said. “As I get my chance to come up and make those big hits, it will happen. My time will come.”
The Packers defense could be making a lineup change this week, as starting inside linebacker Brad Jones missed practice with the same quad injury that sidelined him for the final week of training camp and limited him in practice last week.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Jones likely wouldn’t practice on Thursday, either, which could mean an opportunity for Jamari Lattimore or Sam Barrington on Sunday.
“He’s been fighting this thing for weeks. It didn’t help him (in the Seattle game),” McCarthy said of Jones’ injury. “He’s obviously beat up.”
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) was limited in practice, as was tight end Brandon Bostick (knee), who missed the final two preseason games and the regular-season opener.
Thursday’s full-pads practice will be important for both players, especially for Bostick, given the length of his absence. Bostick is the offense’s best stretch-the-field tight end with his speed and athleticism.
“Tomorrow, full-go, full pads, we’ll see how that goes,” Bostick said. “I’m always hoping, but it’s not my call.”
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