Overcoming adversity and being versatile are two great ways to earn respect in an NFL locker room.
Green Bay Packers defensive back Will Redmond did a little of both Sunday in Dallas, and everyone took notice.
One week after struggling in a prominent role against the Philadelphia Eagles, Redmond responded with the best game of his young NFL career Sunday in Dallas using an early special teams play to spark the confidence needed to play another prominent role on defense once rookie starter Darnell Savage went down with an ankle injury.
Redmond, a converted cornerback, finished with a game-high nine tackles, including an impressive stop of Cowboys All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott on an option play in the red zone.
“Will did some really good things,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said Friday. “He had some plays he’dwant back against Philly and hejust really responded well. Had a great week of practice, was dialed in. Made a heck of a play on the just going back to the last couple years in Dallas they’ve hurt a lot of people on the option play. That’s something we invested a decent amount of time in. He couldn’t have played it any better. It was good to see him make a play.”
Just 10 days earlier, Redmond looked in over his head. He got beat on a third down by Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and then gave up a short touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert in one-on-one coverage. Never before had Redmond played so many snaps in a single game. It was a nightmare at times.
In Dallas, Redmond was revived. He walloped punt returner Tavon Austin on the first punt of the game, sending him backward for a 1-yard loss. It was the play that got him going.
“The play he made covering the punt, you see his confidence growing when a guy has success like that,” Pettine said.
Later, Redmond produced two more solo special teams tackles on kickoff returner Tony Pollard.
Special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga was impressed.
“Yeah, he had three tackles. Two on kickoff and one as a gunner,” Mennenga said Friday. “Just played really, really fast. The things we’re trying to emphasize, I think he carried through to the game. We needed guys to step up and make plays, he’s one of our leaders.”
Redmond would have had a red-zone interception if not for a pair of penalties. He caught a tipped pass along the end line of the end zone in the fourth quarter, but both Za’Darius Smith and Kenny Clark were flagged for penalties, negating the turnover.
It didn’t deter from the quality of the overall performance.
“I think Will’s done a great job. He gives it all each and every day,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “One thing you can always count on is you are going to get his best. He’s going to be fully prepared. He’s definitely earned the respect from everybody in that locker room, the coaches. Just another guy we’re really happy to have.”
The Packers will likely lean on Redmond again on Monday night against the Detroit Lions. Savage has an ankle injury and isn’t likely to play. Expect Redmond to start as a deep safety next to Adrian Amos, while also still contributing on special teams.
“Whatever his role is going to be, he’s going to be ready for it. He’s a versatile guy. he’s smart, he’s tough. He’ll be ready whatever we ask him,” Pettine said.