Thursday, June 12, 2014
Should Morgan Burnett feel more pressure?
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Whatever the reasons Morgan Burnett was shut out in the interception department last season, don't blame it on the $24.75 million contract extension he signed last July with the Green Bay Packers.
The fifth-year safety insists he did not put any pressure on himself to justify that contract, which contained an $8.25 million signing bonus.
"No, not at all," Burnett said this week during OTAs. "You're obligated to come in and do a job, and that's my job as a safety, to try to come in and be the best safety that I can possibly be."
Then why did Burnett – and the rest of the Packers' safeties – fail to come up with a single interception last season?
The Packers were the only team in the NFL that did not get an interception from a safety in 2013.
"When you turn on the film, everyone did what they were supposed to do," Burnett said. "You do your job. With interceptions, you've got to understand that's going to come. And when they come, they come in bunches. So you just stick to doing your job, staying in position, don't go chasing plays because that's when you start looking bad. So there's no pressure with that. The only thing we do is line up, play the defense, and the interceptions will come."
For their part, the Packers' coaches have backed Burnett. Safeties coach Darren Perry called Burnett “still a young player, ascending.” And earlier this offseason coach Mike McCarthy said believes Burnett will make more impact plays this season.
Perhaps the problem was that the Packers failed to find a capable safety to pair with Burnett. When they drafted him in the third round in 2010, they envisioned a long-lasting pairing with Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, whose career ended because of a 2011 neck injury.
M.D. Jennings started the last 26 regular-season games next to Burnett and the Packers thought so little of his play that when he became a restricted free agent this offseason, they did not bother to offer him even the minimum contract tender. Jennings then signed a one-year, minimum deal with the Chicago Bears.
This offseason, the Packers have tried cornerback Micah Hyde at safety and used their first-round pick on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. One of those two will be expected to start next to Burnett.
However, Burnett refuses to blame anyone or anything on his inability to make more big plays.
"There's no excuses," Burnett said. "Everybody has to come in and collectively get the job done."