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Damarious Randall could be next star in Packers' secondary

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When the Green Bay Packers used their first two draft picks last year on cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, it was clear they would play right away as rookies.

But did anyone think they would play as much (more than 1,200 snaps) or as well (they combined for five interceptions and each returned one for a touchdown) as they did?

Heading into Year 2, the Packers expect Randall and Rollins to play even more and have even bigger impacts.

Between now and the Packers' first training camp practice Tuesday morning, we will break down each position group.

Next up, the secondary:

Returning players: Cornerbacks: Randall, Rollins, Sam Shields, LaDarius Gunter, Demetri Goodson, Robertson Daniel. Safeties: Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Micah Hyde, Chris Banjo.

Gone from last season: Casey Hayward (CB), Sean Richardson (S).

New this season: Cornerbacks: Makinton Dorleant (undrafted free agent), Warren Gatewood (undrafted free agent), Josh Hawkins (undrafted free agent), Randall Jette. Safeties: Kentrell Brice (undrafted free agent), Marwin Evans (undrafted free agent), Jermaine Whitehead (undrafted free agent).

Position coach: Darren Perry (safeties, eighth season), Joe Whitt (cornerbacks, ninth season).

Biggest issue: At the end of the 2014 season, Clinton-Dix blew coverage on a two-point conversion that contributed to the Packers’ fourth-quarter collapse against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game. It left a pock mark on what was an otherwise solid rookie season.

Last year, the same thing happened to Randall as a rookie. He botched a coverage in overtime of the divisional playoff loss at Arizona, and that led to Larry Fitzgerald’s 75-yard catch-and-run that set up the winning touchdowns. Clinton-Dix came back and had an even better second season than he did as a rookie, and the Packers expect Randall to do the same. In fact, they believe he has the makeup to become their next shutdown cover corner. They had so much confidence in him -- and Rollins -- that they didn’t make Hayward an offer before he signed with the Chargers in free agency.

Player to watch: Gunter was one of the most productive -- and surprising -- players in training camp as a rookie last season. No one intercepted more passes in practice than the former undrafted free agent from Miami. Despite making the roster, he played only eight snaps on defense in the regular season. Then a quad injury forced Rollins out of the wild-card playoff game against the Redskins, and Gunter played 31 snaps and broke up a fourth-quarter pass.

Medical report: Rollins suffered a gruesome finger injury early in offseason practices and was limited the rest of the way.

Help wanted: Expect Randall and Shields to be the starters on the outside in the base defense. But without Hayward, the Packers need a new nickel (slot) cover man. Hyde has been that before, and Rollins also would seem like a natural for the position. But this offseason, the coaches experimented with both Randall and Gunter inside. Goodson won't factor early because he has to serve a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Quotable: “We have to get better,” Whitt said. “For us to be where we want to be, no matter how anybody else on this team plays, we have to play better. And so the way we played last year was good at points -- like I said, we were the only team in the league to be top 10 in every pass [defense] category -- but in saying that, we didn’t control games that we should’ve controlled at times.”

Previous installments

Part 1: Quarterbacks: Mr. August, Part II: Brett Hundley could follow Matt Hasselbeck's path

Part 2: Running backs: Packers holding breath that Eddie Lacy stayed in shape this summer

Part 3: Receivers: Packers might have to consider keeping seven

Part 4: Tight ends: Packers hope Jared Cook adds a Jermichael Finley-like dimension

Part 5: Offensive line: Free agency could break up line after this season

Part 6: Defensive line: B.J. Raji's hiatus forced Packers to change plans

Part 7: Linebackers: Clay Matthews’ return to outside linebacker leaves questions inside