It was a rather inauspicious introduction to the National Football League for Clinton-Dix – one from which he has rebounded to become one of the standout stars over the course of the past six weeks.
He’s been so steady and so good – along with Micah Hyde – that he has contributed to the resurgence of fellow safety Morgan Burnett as he has stepped up his game while helping the entire Packers defensive backfield become one of the best in the entire league.
Clinton-Dix started his first game this month and told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week that it was a moment he had been awaiting:
“I felt good to finally get my first start in. I felt comfortable back there with all the checks and all the calls. I can still get better each week.”
Though he admitted to missing a tackle last week against the Panthers, that can be forgiven because his nine tackles last week led the defense for the second straight week.
And he’s not just tackling … he’s flying around the field like the player the Packers expected when they took him in the first round of last May’s NFL Draft.Green Bay Packers free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix intercepts his first NFL pass during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports photograph
He’s come a ways since the spring workouts and training camp. Heck, he’s come a long way since he missed that tackle at Seattle.
Clinton-Dix has shown the type of toughness and fundamental skills that has endeared him not only to Packers faithful, but to the coaching staff.
So, what’s been the key to his success?
“Being more aggressive. Coming up and making tackles, and just playing more physical than I did in the first game.”
He credits his position coach, Darren Perry, for his continued improvement.
“If Coach (Perry) sees us out there giving effort, 100 percent effort, whether we miss a tackle or make it, he can live with that,” Clinton-Dix said. “Once he sees us coming up short or kind of hesitating on making the tackle, then he has a problem. He doesn’t like that at all.
“‘DP’ was really upset with me after that game. I was upset with myself. He expects a lot out of me.”
Clinton-Dix’s value and skills will surely be tested tonight when the Packers take to the field against the New Orleans Saints and the Hall of Fame arm of Drew Brees.
Should Burnett not be able to go, the duties on the back end of the Packers defense will fall to Clinton-Dix, Hyde and Sean Richardson – something that gets the approval of the Packers coaches.
With depth at both cornerback and safety, the Packers seem to be in good hands.
No doubt, Clinton-Dix will be a big part of the picture, not only tonight, but for the future.