GREEN BAY – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix got his contract done Thursday. What the Green Bay Packers rookie first-round pick did not get, however, was the starting safety job handed to him.
Unlike 2010, when then-rookie third-round pick Morgan Burnett worked alongside incumbent starter Nick Collins with the No. 1 defense from the very first snap of the offseason, it was second-year man Micah Hyde – not Clinton-Dix – who lined up next to Burnett with the starters on Thursday during the Packers’ first open organized team activity practice.
According to defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the move has more to do with getting a longer look at Hyde at safety – a position he didn’t play last year during an impressive rookie campaign – than any opinion the team has about its first-round pick.
“We did [put Burnett with the starters right away],” Capers said. “Last year, we had discussions about Micah at safety, but by the time we had them, I don’t think it would’ve been fair to him to put him back there. So when you’ve got a guy like Micah that you feel can make some plays – and we’ve seen him at nickel, we’ve seen him at dime, we’ve seen him at corner, and he might end up playing all those for us, because I would see him being the dime right now – you want to get him a background at safety so it opens up more possibilities.”
Asked if playing Hyde ahead of Clinton-Dix might slow the rookie’s development, Capers said no.
“I don’t think so. I think he’ll get plenty of work, and we’re going to get to see him,” Capers said. “I don’t think that sets him back whatsoever, and I think it’s a positive for Micah and us because hey, you’ve seen how much we’ve had to move people around from week to week.”
Meanwhile Hyde, who played 428 defensive snaps as a rookie fifth-round pick last year, wasn’t sure if he was moving to safety full-time or not.
“I have no idea. I can't even answer that question,” he said. “I'm coming in trying to learn as much as possible. I got some experience last year with the nickel and the dime, and this I'm just kind of putting that last piece together since I already knew corner. I'm just trying to learn what everyone's supposed to be doing in the secondary.
“I don't know what their plan is for me, but hopefully I get an opportunity to be on the field. That's what I came here to do.”
Terms were not immediately available for Clinton-Dix’s deal (which was first reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Rand Getlin), but last year’s 21st overall pick, Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert, signed a four-year, $8.256 million deal that included a $4.38 million signing bonus. Clinton-Dix's deal should be similar.
All first-round picks sign four-year deals with a club option for a fifth year. The Packers declined that option on 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod earlier this offseason.
Second-round wide receiver Davante Adams and third-round tight end Richard Rodgers remain unsigned but did take part in the OTA practice Thursday.
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