Packers position preview: Cornerbacks

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Between now and the Green Bay Packers' first training camp practice Saturday, we will break down each position group.

Next up is cornerbacks.

Returning players: Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Jumal Rolle, Antonio Dennard.

Gone from last season: James Nixon.

New this season: Demetri Goodson (sixth-round pick), Ryan White (undrafted rookie).

Position coach: Joe Whitt (sixth season, also spent one season as a defensive quality control coach).

Biggest issue: Halfway through last season, it was starting to look like Williams' days with the Packers -- at least under his current contract structure -- might be coming to an end. In the middle of his seventh NFL season, Williams' game had still not returned to its 2010 form, when he was a key player on the Super Bowl-winning defense. But over the course of the second half of the season, Williams closed with the kind of play that prompted the Packers to sign him to a four-year, $33 million contract extension in the first place. Williams now is in the final year of that contract and is slated to make $7.5 million this season. Although it's highly unlikely, if the Packers were to cut Williams before the season started they would remove his base salary of $6.9 million off their books and would have to count only $2 million of his remaining prorated signing bonus on their salary cap.

Player to watch: The last two offseasons have been the same for House. He has shown up big in practice, but those results have not transferred to the regular season. Once again this year, the former fourth-round pick has stood out in OTA and minicamp practices. Now entering the final year of his rookie contract, House must show that he can take the next step to warrant consistent playing time, another contract and possibly a shot at a starting job someday.

Medical report: On the eve of training camp last season, Hayward pulled his hamstring. He was never the same. He played in only three regular-season games last year before landing on injured reserve. He was a regular participant in the offseason practices this spring and has shown no signs that the hamstring will continue to be an issue.

Help wanted: The Packers want to get Hyde on the field as much as possible but with Hayward returning as the likely nickel defensive back and Shields and Williams seemingly entrenched as starters, his best chance might be at safety. Although he is still listed as a cornerback on the roster, Hyde spent most of this offseason playing safety, where he regularly lined up as a starter next to Morgan Burnett.

Quotable: "As a cornerback group, I believe we were eighth in the league in interceptions [last season] with nine," Whitt said. "In the [last] five years, I know we're No. 1. We've got to be top-five as a cornerback group in interceptions. I think we had nine last year; we need to be around 12. We just have to catch the football when it's thrown to us."

Previous installments

July 14: Quarterbacks

July 15: Running backs

July 16: Receivers

July 17: Tight ends

July 18: Offensive line

July 21: Defensive line

July 22: Linebackers