It’s been quite a year for Green Bay Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas. Douglas was let go by two NFL teams and on the practice squad of a third before he signed with the Pack in early October. Since then, he’s gone from a player struggling to make a roster to a Pro Bowl alternate and a difference maker on the Green Bay defense.
The numbers speak for themselves. In 10 games with the Packers, the former West Virginia star 53 total tackles. He’s made five interceptions including two pick-sixes and two game-saving picks in the final minute of games. Douglas has also broken up 12 passes.
According to pro-football-reference.com, opposing quarterbacks are completing just 52 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Douglas and have a quarterback rating of just 38.6.
For his strong play, Douglas was named a Pro Bowl alternate despite not seeing any game action until Week 6.
“Talk about an all-time pickup midseason, quarterback Aaron Rodgers told Fox Sports after the Packers 24-22 win over the Browns. “Rasul Douglas has changed our defense, changed our team.”
The road to Green Bay was not easy for Douglas. He is a former third-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017. After three seasons with Philadelphia, Douglas signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2020 and played in 14 games while starting 11. He did not make an interception.
Douglas was not re-signed by Carolina. He started training camp with the Las Vegas Raiders this season but we released in August. Two days later, the Houston Texans signed Douglas but he lasted only six days in their training camp. Four days later, the Arizona Cardinals added Douglas to their practice squad.
When Packers Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander was injured in Week 4 against Pittsburgh, the Packers looked for an experienced corner they could plug into the lineup. GM Brian Gutekunst signed Douglas off the Arizona practice squad on October 6.
Douglas made his Packers debut in Week 6 against the Bears in Chicago. With both Alexander and Kevin King out of the lineup, Isaac Yiadom got the start. But Yiadom struggled on Chicago’s opening drive and Douglas quickly replaced him. He’s had a substantial role in the Green Bay defense since then.
Douglas made his first interception with the Packers in the final seconds of Green Bay’s 24-21 win over the Cardinals. Arizona was deep in Packers territory when Douglas picked off Kyler Murray in the end zone to preserve the win.
Against the Rams, Douglas scored his first career NFL touchdown when he grabbed a Matthew Stafford pass and ran it back 33 yards for a score. That touchdown helped clinch Green Bay’s 36-28 win over Los Angeles and Douglas was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Since then, Douglas continued to make big plays. He added a second pick-six against the Bears and Justin Fields in Week 14 before his two interception performance against Baker Mayfield and the Browns on Christmas day.
Douglas doesn’t have the natural speed of an Alexander or Eric Stokes. But he spends a lot of time in the film room and that hard work and football intelligence puts him in the right position to make plays.
“Rasul has been a huge part of this defense,” head coach Matt LaFleur said after the Packers beat the Bears the second time. “He makes key plays all the time. I love how aggressive he was. He’s just a guy who’s fearless and he’s resilient. He’s a ball hawk. He does a great job of studying tape of keying receivers and their route tendencies and that allows him to make some of the plays that he’s made.”
“It always transfers over,” Douglas said regarding film study. “I go through every week with the same mindset. I try to look for plays that maybe I can get an interception on and that I could jump. And I always tell my safeties what plays I’m gonna jump so in case I do and it’s not that, hopefully they’re in the post.”
Wide receiver Davante Adams knows a thing or two about cornerbacks and he faces Douglas often in practice. He has been impressed with Douglas’ play. “He hasn’t been a superstar in this league per se until now,” Adams said about Douglas. “You see what he’s about now. I think it’s pretty safe to say that he’s a superstar at the cornerback position. But he’s a great dude more than anything, man.”
Douglas isn’t ready to call himself a star just yet, but he’s pleased with his play this season. “I don’t know. The coaches are just putting me in a good position to make plays and I’m making them,” Douglas said after the Browns game. “It just feels good here. The coaches, the players, Lambeau, just everything feels good. I don’t even know what to say right now.”
It’s been a tough road for Douglas this season, but he’s in a good place right now and playing the best football of his NFL career. The Packers don’t want to think how different their season would be without him.
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