Micah Hyde and Jeremy Ross Battling For a Roster Spot?

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Is Packers CB Micah Hyde pushing WR Jeremy Ross out of a roster spot?

Green Bay Packers rookie cornerback Micah Hyde and second-year wide receiver Jeremy Ross could be battling for the same roster spot, despite holding two different positions on two different units. The one thing they do have in common, however, is that they’re both getting looks as punt returners on special teams. In fact, according to JSOnline’s Wednesday camp report, both Hyde and Ross will be returning “most if not all the punts against Seattle.”

Micah Hyde has been making a lot of splashes this preseason. He has taken full advantage of the injuries to Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward by making the most of his reps during practice and exhibition games. While he has a couple things to refine in coverage, he has shown great things as a blitzing defensive back. Overall, his praise has been well-earned. ProFootballFocus.com (PFF) even highlighted his performance against the St. Louis Rams last week: “Leading that group (of young corners), in spite of being involved in Chris Givens’ 57 yard reception, was 5th round pick Micah Hyde (+2.4) who outside of that catch surrendered only six yards on five targets. He also broke up two passes and registered four stops including a sack.”

As a punt returner, Hyde has had only a few opportunities to make an impact; however, his 13-yard (and only) return against the Rams was the longest by a Packers player so far this preseason. Head coach Mike McCarthy likes his ability to field balls, too. According to Rob Demovsky at ESPN’s NFC North Blog, McCarthy recalled a drill from rookie orientation camp: “Just to see (Hyde’s) ability to catch the ball on the run and do different things, hell, I was tempted to put him on offense. I think he has that type of ball-skill ability.”

With the cornerback group as deep as it is with Williams, Shields, House, and Hayward, it might take some extra duties for Hyde to really lock down a significant role on the roster.

Then there’s Jeremy Ross. Not too long ago, I wrote about Ross’ problems with ball security, but since that time there have been few reports about dropped catches. After Jonathan Franklin’s failure to field the third-quarter punt against St. Louis that resulted in a turnover (according to special teams coach Shawn Slocum), Ross has one fewer competitor to take the main job.

Unfortunately, returning punts isn’t the only issue for Ross right now. JSOnline reported that, during Tuesday’s practice, Jarrett Boykin and Tyrone Walker worked alongside James Jones as the top three wide receivers. That’s a negative sign for Ross, who had been lining up as the number three behind Boykin while Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have been out.

In reality, Ross is being slowly pushed out of a roster spot through the combined performances of both Micah Hyde as a punt returner and Tyrone Walker as a wide receiver.

Unless the Packers decide to keep six wide receivers – which they’ve only done once in the past five years – then Ross could find himself on the wrong side of the cuts. Ball security is the one thing he’s had problems with, it’s the one thing Hyde has shown himself capable of, and it’s the most important thing to Mike McCarthy. Special teams has always decided the final few spots on the 53-man roster, so this punt return battle between Hyde and Ross will mean significant things for both of them.

One more thing to keep your eyes on tomorrow.

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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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  • QOTSA1

    I really like Ross as a punter returner, but his ball security still worries me.

    If the Packers want someone who could be a threat on kick and punt returns, but could be a turnover risk, they choose Ross. If they want someone who may not be much of a threat as a returner, but is secure with the ball, they choose Hyde

    • Lucas

      It’s far too early to asses Hyde’s return abilities. Let’s see the Pack D shut the birds offense completely down so we can see a lot of punts and find out.

  • PatMc

    Hyde has a roster spot. He is 5th round pick for development who has shown the ability to play. Hayward needs to earn his own spot back.

    Ross needs to prove he can catch (and field) the ball without turnovers. He also needs to win a WR spot. Competition is good!

    • Stroh

      The only spot Ross has to win is the PR/KR job. If he wins that I think he makes the roster. He needs to have strong ball security and make some plays on returns. I think the Packers would take him on returns and work w/ his receiving ability. Hyde strikes me as good ball security, but lacking in playmaking.

      • PatMc

        I think Ross needs to win KR. Ross has had a year to learn already and needs to show good ball security as WR.

        I think Hyde will have the PR job. He can do the job effectively and defend against fake punts. Hyde has a knack for interceptions, fumble recoveries and tackling.

        They will back ech other up.

        • Stroh

          I don’t think Ross makes it unless he’s handling all returns. Im not concerned w his WR abilities for now. Has to do all returns tho.

          • PatMc

            I agree on Ross as return man only. He needs to probably win both jobs (KR and PR). He doesn’t get the WR spot as of right now, so he does need to lock down the return position.

            After the game last night Hyde is on and will get plenty of playing time as CB. He has game. He can back up as PR without problem.

  • Hank Scorpio

    Ross is competing with Hyde for a job but not the other way around. The only path to a roster spot for Ross is as a returner. If he isn’t the #1 returner, he won’t survive final cuts.

    Hyde has the roster made regardless of whether he is the primary PR. The Packers are deep at CB. It’s a tough place to make the roster. But, in addition to what he’s shown @ CB, Hyde sure seems like a hybrid that could end up at Safety longterm. And be a good one. The Packers won’t give up on that.

    • steve cheez

      The next LeRoy Butler, perhaps?

    • Boltz

      Micah Hyde is battling for a spot in the starting lineup, not for a spot on the roster. He made the team on the first day of training camp.

    • Lee

      Hyde has to make the team. There is no way they can sneak him on the PS. I agree he would make a great safety if ever needed there. He makes plays!!

  • Batavia Greg

    Don’t get me wrong. I like Micah Hyde. Someday, he’ll make a great DB coach, but he’s simply too slow to be a pro corner. As an Iowa alum, I never saw a game in which he wasn’t beaten. As he lacks elite recovery speed, he is more at home in soft zone coverages than in a press or man-to-man. He does have a nose for the big play and is smart, but how can he make up for his lack of speed? IMHO, he’s more suited to free safety as a pro.

    Used as a kick returner? Possibly. He secures the ball well. He was Iowa’s only punt returner for the past 2 years and put the ball on the ground only once and that was recovered by Iowa so it wasn’t a turnover.

    • NYPACKER

      Worst headline ever, there is no way that Hyde isn’t going to make this team. He will not be used defending WR’s outside the hash marks. He will cover slot receivers where he has help over the top from safeties.

    • Batavia Greg

      Micah Hyde is a durable, smart player who should have a good career in the NFL even though he is relatively slow for a cornerback and may have trouble staying with receivers downfield. Best used as a corner in zone coverages. Coming out of HS, he was NW Ohio’s offensive player of the year. He was a HS QB, DB and place kicker. At Iowa, he never griped about playing defense only. He is durable. He played in every game in his 4 years there as either a corner or free safety and was a starter his last 3 years. He had one altercation with police for public intoxication but that seems to be a common occurrence for players at Iowa. He graduated with a degree. In 2012, he returned 16 punts, averaging 7.44 yards a return. In 2011, he had 13 returns for 8.15 yards per return. He is a sure tackler, a leader on the field and a very savvy player who will make QBs who underestimate him pay for their mistakes.

      • Stroh

        Thanks for the statistical biography.

        • Batavia Greg

          You’re welcome.

      • http://allpackers.com nick perry

        He’s a place kicker? Hell, give him Crosby’s job! He can’t be any worse.

  • Rich DiBella

    Hyde is the starting nickel as of now and has a roster spot guaranteed. He has had arguably the best camp of any rookie. Some of these articles written are terrible.

    • Chad Toporski

      Hmm… don’t think I said Hyde wasn’t getting a roster spot.

      I love misleading titles, because they tell you who actually reads the article.

      • http://allpackers.com nick perry

        LMAO!! Good one Chad!

  • Dan Collins

    Not even close. Hyde. I mean, he’s bulleted up to just beneath Shields on the CB depth chart, and they can play him at safety, because he can tackle. I think that at this point they probably wish Ross would reach out and grab the punt return job so that they can protect him, just as they wish to protect Cobb.

    They’ve already got a lot of possession types. Myles White has been where he’s supposed to be, even when the QBs couldn’t get the ball to him. They’d hoped to get the speed in a larger package in Johnson, but he’s been injured. I suppose we’ll see them try Dorsey on returns this week. It’s about the only way one of these other WRs could stick, except for Johnson, who has beguiling physical abilities and whom they probably want to stash on the PS. McCarthy’s very frustrated about all the ‘moving parts,’ and who can blame him, given the drama on the O-line and the kicking circus? He doesn’t see anybody stepping up and tearing this most fundamental of jobs away as his ticket to the 53. He wants to be focused on other things, but guys like Ross and Crosby and Franklin can’t seem to get it together.

    At the moment, I imagine them keeping TEs Finley, Bostick, Quarless and Stoneburner. The O-line situation probably means they need to keep an extra body there. I think McCarthy’s fed up, and the next two weeks are going to be rough for underachieving/unavailable Packers.

  • Mojo

    I think to this point in training camp/preseason the status of the two can be summed up as such; From now on until the roster is finalized, Hyde would have to play himself off the team and Ross needs to play himself on the team.

  • wil marsh

    well, i’ve taken notes during both ps games and there are several already basically off the roster and not in any specific order: D Hines, B Smith, B Coleman, D Fulton, L Means,JLattimore,J Nixon, A Pease, C Powell; and even D Moses and J McMillan as they’ve missed some notable plays at this level. Against the lambs, Francois sealed his position so you can get rid of one of the average LBs. Glad to see one or two new faces emerge in Hyde and Walker and thrilled to see ole purple drank look like he’s getting there! I really love JJ’s instincts on the gridiro-he’s a player..put him on the 53! Good luck to all, love you Pack!

  • jtmax

    If Ross drops one more ball in preseason or practice, he’s done. Too many data points proving that he can’t secure the ball. Otherwise he has a chance just because of his unique combination of size, speed, and vision in the return game which can change games in an instant.

  • http://MSN Mark

    Ross has SIZE. Ross has vision. Ross has fair speed. I don’t know if he runs good routes, if so he is a primo slot guy as well as returner, IF he finally gets catching and holding onto the ball.

    Hate to see talent slip away. Can Ross go back to PS? Maybe stash him on IR/PUP for a mid season boost if he gets it together, or cut him then.

    Hyde is a lock. Inside dime this year, FS next year or two when he puts on a little bulk.

  • bob

    Hyde is slow….was outran by a cop when he got public intox at Iowa…how does that happen. Give the CB spot to the cop in Iowa City.

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