Micah Hyde: Green Bay Packers’ Most Valuable Backup

Packers' Defender and Returner Micah Hyde

Micah Hyde is one of the most versatile players on the Green Bay Packers. While he will not be a starter to open 2015, he has experience as both a cornerback and safety, and is the Packers’ best punt returner. His ability to adequately play multiple positions makes him Green Bay’s best defensive back up.

Hyde started 12 games in 2014, but the starters in the secondary next season will likely be filled by Sam Shields, Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and either Casey Hayward or one of the Packers’ draft selections. But Hyde has been most successful as a nickel or dime slot corner, so coming off the bench will not drastically limit his production.

In 2014, he appeared in all 16 games and totaled 59 tackles, seven passes defended, and two interceptions. In 2013, he also played in every game and recorded 55 tackles and two passes defended.

Over those two seasons, Hyde has been able to rotate between playing safety and cornerback. He goes where he is needed most on the field, which makes him a major asset to the Packers’ roster.

Hyde was on the field for roughly 65 percent of the Packers’ defensive snaps in 2014, despite not being a part of Green Bay’s base 3-4 defense after Week 7. He started at safety for the first six weeks, before being supplanted by Clinton-Dix. After that, Hyde primarily saw the field as a slot corner.

Hyde has yet to show true dynamic ability as a defender. He has just the two interceptions in his career, and cannot really match up with opposing teams’ top receivers. But he is valuable as a defender nonetheless, especially when he does get more favorable matchups against slot receivers.

But despite his value as a versatile defender, Hyde’s biggest strength and impact on the team comes as a punt returner. Hyde split punt return duties with Randall Cobb, but Hyde has proven himself to be the best returner with NFL experience on the Packers’ roster.

Hyde and Cobb each had 14 returns in 2014. Hyde averaged 15.8 yards per return with two touchdowns and a long return of 75 yards. Cobb averaged 8.0 yards per return with a long of 24 yards and no touchdowns.

Hyde’s average of 15.8 yards was easily the highest of players with at least 12 returns, and his two return touchdowns also tied for the most in the league. Even with the return of a healthy Jared Abbrederis and the entrance of Ty Montgomery, Hyde will still be in the competition to be the Packers’ punt returner. At the very least, Hyde will at least split returns with the others.

The Packers’ roster is loaded with talent. Hyde is not the best cornerback or the best safety on the team. If Abbrederis and Montgomery emerge as strong returners, Hyde may no longer be the best returner Green Bay has either. But Hyde will continue to be a valuable piece of the Packers’ roster in 2015. He is a versatile player who has proven that he can perform at the professional level, and will continue to play where the Packers need him most.

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Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .

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