Despite the arrival of first-round rookie Eric Stokes, the Green Bay Packers appear set to begin the 2021 season with the same starting cornerbacks.
The Packers listed both Jaire Alexander and Kevin King as starters on Tuesday night when they unveiled their first depth chart for Week 1, seemingly declaring King the winner of his training-camp battle with the rookie Stokes — assuming, that is, that Stokes ever really stood a chance of winning King’s starting job this summer.
The only other notable thing about the Packers’ initial depth chart is the (apparent) confirmation that rookies Josh Myers and Royce Newman will both begin the season as starters for their offensive line. As expected, Myers is listed as the Packers’ starting center against the New Orleans Saints, while Newman is their starting right guard over 2020 sixth-rounder Jon Runyan Jr.
The Packers will face the Saints in Jacksonville’s home stadium (due to Hurricane Ida’s impact on New Orleans) at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 12.
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Starting Job Remains King’s to Lose
Stokes, who was selected with No. 29 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, spent a majority of camp running with the Packers’ starting defense opposite Alexander while King spent the first two weeks nursing a hamstring injury. During that time, Stokes endured a trial by fire that regularly saw him matching up against the dynamic duo of Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers and drew him praise from numerous teammates.
“He’s the closest thing to Jaire (Alexander) as far as mentality and ability from what I’ve seen so far,” Adams told reporters after August 19’s practice. “The kid is fast as hell. He can get beat and recover, kind of like how Sam Shields would do.”
Once King returned, however, Stokes was gradually bumped back to the second team in a move that felt inevitable based on the way the Packers constructed their roster for 2021. Fans may not always like it — and some might still have stress dreams about King’s miserable performance in the NFC Championship Game — but the Packers continue to think pretty highly of King. Don’t forget, King looked like a legitimate No. 2 starter coming off his finest (and healthiest) season for the Packers in 2019, recording a team-high five interceptions and 15 pass breakups.
“I think our value (of him) within our building is much higher maybe than public perception is out there,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters on August 24. “He’s a guy I have a lot of faith, a lot of confidence in. I think when he’s healthy, he’s really tough to deal with, his length when he challenges guys at the line of scrimmage and gets his hands on them, that’s a tough matchup for most wide receivers.”