Injuries prevented Packers from seeing Alexander-King combination

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers think they have the cornerback duo of the future. They just haven’t seen them as a duo very often.

Jaire Alexander, the Packers’ top draft pick in 2018, and Kevin King, their top pick a year earlier, played in only four games together this past season. In all, they played fewer than 200 snaps together.

For the second straight year, injuries ruined King’s season. He was shut down after nine games as a rookie because of a shoulder injury. This season, he played in only six games. He missed Weeks 3 and 4 because of a groin injury. When he came back in Week 5, Alexander missed two games because of the same injury. When Alexander came back on Oct. 28 against the Rams, King was done a week later because of a hamstring injury.

A year ago, defensive passing game coordinator Joe Whitt said no one had seen the real King yet. A year later, that remains the case.

“I would have loved to see the combination of Jaire and Kevin King this year, with Tramon [Williams] or whoever else, in the nickel, but that’s not what happened,” Whitt said near the end of the 2018 season. “I do know Jaire is an outstanding young talent. I do know Kevin King, when healthy if he can be healthy, can be dominant. I do know those two. So if I’m coaching the group next year or if somebody else is coaching the group next year, if those guys are healthy, they’re going to have a helluva tandem. I do know that.”

No one on the Packers’ defense played every snap this past season, although Williams came the closest. The 35-year-old veteran played all but five of the 1,064 plays.

In all, the Packers used 32 different defensive players in 2018, two more than any season since 2013 and eight more than they used in 2014. All three opening-day starting defensive linemen -- Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels and Muhammad Wilkerson -- finished the season on injured reserve.

The injuries hit even harder on special teams, where they used 63 different players – five more than in 2017 and 10 more than in 2016. Special teams will have a different look under new coach Matt LaFleur, who not surprisingly decided not to retain coordinator Ron Zook.

Below are the snap counts for the 32 players the Packers used on defense during the 2018 season. For a comparison, here are last year’s defensive totals. The offensive totals can be found here.

Total defensive plays: 1,064

Defensive line

Linebackers

Defensive backs