GREEN BAY — It’s safe to say Micah Hyde made a positive first impression on Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy during the team’s rookie orientation in May.
During the three-day crash course to the NFL, McCarthy and the coaching staff rounded up 21 players and had them run through kickoff and punt return drills regardless of experience level.
Hyde was one of them, and while he isn’t competing for the Packers’ return job, the fifth-round cornerback out of Iowa showed something to McCarthy on that day.
“Just to see his ability to catch the ball on the run and do different things, hell, I was tempted to put him on offense,” McCarthy said. “I think he has that type of ball skill ability. He’s doing some really good things as a young player.”
Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt is reserving judgment until the 22-year-old rookie makes an interception in an actual NFL game, but he’s shown all the indications of being a willing tackler and competent in coverage.
Written off by some scouts for possessing average speed — he ran a 4.56-second time in the 40-yard dash — Hyde’s play-making ability in practice shot him past third-year cornerback Davon House on the depth chart this week and had him lining up with the starting base defense across from Sam Shields.
After leading the defense with five tackles last Friday against Arizona, Hyde picked off B.J. Coleman in practice Wednesday after tipping a pass to himself and catching it as he fell to the turf in the end zone.
Near the end of practice Thursday, the 6-foot, 197-pound cornerback scored another off Coleman on a fourth-and-goal team drill.
“He’s a football player who does everything very, very good,” Whitt said. “He doesn’t really splash out there. He’s not going to have the impressive numbers that everybody goes goo-goo about, but he’s just a football player. He’s a lot like Brent Grimes, a guy I had in Atlanta. He does everything very smooth, very good, and hopefully he can continue that way.”
Shields didn’t take his full share of reps Thursday, enabling Hyde, House and undrafted cornerbacks James Nixon, Loyce Means and Brandon Smith the additional work, a trend that should continue in Saturday night's preseason game against St. Louis.
The game can’t come soon enough for House, who said he played “horrible” against the Cardinals and categorized his performance as the worst of his career after giving up three catches for 92 yards and a touchdown on 16 defensive snaps, including a pair of receptions more than 30 yards to Andre Roberts and Charles Hawkins.
“Not only games, you have to look at plays,” Whitt said. “You can’t let one play beat you twice. You have to be able to put it behind you, especially at the position we play.
“You can’t go with an emotional roller coaster in this game. If you have a good play, you can’t get too high. If you have a bad play, you can’t get too low.
“He’s had solid practices all camp. What happens on the field is what I want to see. I’ll be able to see that on Saturday.”