Jaire Alexander eager to help Packers wideouts by lining up against them in practice
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander got some early evidence that second-year receivers Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson will make major strides this upcoming season.
Doubs beat Alexander for a catch on a red zone drill Tuesday during the first day of the Packers’ mandatory minicamp.
Watson raced past Alexander to catch a deep pass from new starting quarterback Jordan Love.
Neither of those scenes happened very often last season.
“Doubs caught a touchdown on me today, and I gave him a hug almost,” Alexander said. “I was like, ‘Good stuff,’ because the year before he didn’t catch anything on me.”
Opponents also don’t catch much against him.
Alexander, 26, had a career-high five interceptions and was a second-team selection in the All-Pro balloting last season.
Alexander delivered one of the top individual single-game performances by any cornerback when he helped the Packers limit Justin Jefferson to one catch for 15 yards in a 41-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
He’s the first Packers defensive back to get multiple Pro Bowl selections in his first five years in the league since Nick Collins in 2008-09.
Those credentials help explain why Alexander didn’t have any problem sitting out the Packers’ organized team activities, even though it meant sacrificing a potential $700,000 contract bonus.
Alexander noted that he did stay in Green Bay earlier in the offseason, until about April.
“I know what works for me at this point,” said Alexander, a 2018 first-round pick from Louisville. “I’m on year six, so two Pro Bowls, two All-Pros, I mean, I think I know what I got going on here.”
The Packers need a big season from Alexander and the rest of their cornerbacks as they attempt to bounce back from an 8-9 season and show they can remain competitive without four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’s now with the New York Jets.
Alexander and teammate Rasul Douglas each had four fourth-quarter interceptions last season to tie Dallas’ DaRon Bland for the most in the league. The Packers also bring back Keisean Nixon and should get a boost whenever 2021 first-round draft pick Eric Stokes returns from the foot and knee injuries that ended his 2022 season prematurely.
But they’re dealing with some changes.
Green Bay’s secondary will be missing veteran safety Adrian Amos, who signed with the Jets on Tuesday. Jerry Gray, who coached Green Bay’s defensive backs from 2020-22, left to become the Atlanta Falcons’ assistant head coach for defense.
When Green Bay intercepted three Tua Tagovailoa passes in the fourth quarter of a 26-20 Christmas Day victory at Miami, Alexander credited Gray’s halftime motivational speech for sparking the comeback.
“He’s helped me out through a lot,” Alexander said. “He’s got me to pretty much where I’m at. I’m not saying him solo, but he’s helped me out a lot.”
The Packers replaced Gray by hiring Greg Williams, who spent the past four seasons coaching the Arizona Cardinals’ cornerbacks While talking to reporters last month, Williams said the key to earning the trust of his new players is to be direct with them.
“I try to tell them. ‘Hey, I’m going be honest with you. I’m not going lie to you about anything. That’s why you can trust me to coach you. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it was good when it wasn’t good. I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s bad or do something that I don’t think is going to help you,’ “ Williams said.
While he adapts to his new coach, Alexander also is coaching Green Bay’s young receivers up. He liked what he saw from Doubs and Watson on Tuesday. He’s ready to help them take the next step in their development by lining up against them throughout the preseason.
“When I first got here, that’s the first thing I told Christian and Romeo was keep doing what you’re doing, because we’re going to need you, at the end of the day,” Alexander said. “No one has egos here. There’s no ego with me, because at this point, I want to see the best for the team.”
TOP PHOTO: FILE – Green Bay Packers’ Jaire Alexander rides a bike to NFL football training camp Thursday, July 26, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)