Packers’ Douglas eager to build on his breakthrough season
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas is approaching the offseason with the same attitude that helped the former practice squad player emerge as one of the NFL’s biggest surprises last year.
While his breakthrough season resulted in a three-year, $21 million contract, Douglas isn’t taking anything for granted. He understands the tenuous nature of NFL life after bouncing around a few organizations last year before finding a home in Green Bay.
“At any time, if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, they can let you go,” Douglas said this week during the Packers’ organized team activities. “You’ve just got to keep working.”
Douglas, 27, is part of one the league’s top secondaries. It includes 2020 All-Pro second-team selection Jaire Alexander and 2021 first-round pick Eric Stokes at cornerback plus Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage at safety.
“We’re trying to be the best secondary,” Douglas said. “We’ve got the best two safeties, the best three corners. We’re trying to put that all together.”
A 2017 third-round pick from West Virginia, Douglas helped Philadelphia win a Super Bowl title in his rookie season. He made a combined 29 starts in four seasons with the Eagles (2017-19) and Carolina Panthers (2020). Last season was a struggle to land a job until the Packers took a chance on him.
Released by the Las Vegas Raiders and the Houston Texans before the season, the Packers signed him off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad in early October. The move came after Alexander suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the rest of the regular season.
Little did they know the impact Douglas would make.
His first big play came against the Cardinals. Douglas preserved the Packers’ 24-21 victory at Arizona by intercepting Kyler Murray’s second-and-goal pass in the end zone with 12 seconds remaining.
He scored on interception returns of 33 yards against the Los Angeles Rams and 55 yards against the Chicago Bears, becoming the first Packer to have a pick-6 in consecutive games since Hall of Famer Herb Adderley in 1965. Douglas picked off two passes in a victory over the Cleveland Browns on Christmas.
“My job is to put you in a position where you can make your plays,” defensive backs coach Jerry Gray said. “Hey look, I’m not a cookie-cutter coach. Whatever you’re good at, I’m going to let you be good at, and that’s kind of what he did over here.”
Douglas’ decision to stay rather than leave via free agency and Alexander’s return from an injury has the Packers feeling bullish about their pass defense.
“We can one of the best DB units in this whole league,” Stokes said. “We’ve just got to go out there and do it.”
Teammates and coaches have raved about Douglas’ work ethic and tireless approach to film study last season.
For his part, Douglas said he didn’t understand the best way to watch film until he started getting lessons from Gray.
“The guys welcomed me in,” Douglas said. “Honestly, my first home game here, I was thinking, I want to be here forever.”