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Breakout for Burnett? Williams, McCarthy say so

Jul 31, 2012 -- 2:38pm
 
Photo/Associated Press via ESPN.com

GREEN BAY – Tramon Williams and coach Mike McCarthy are both predicting big things for third-year safety Morgan Burnett. In fact, Williams was so confident in his crystal ball work Tuesday that he politely demanded that a handful of writers take note.

“I personally feel that Morgan has a rare skill set, just like (Nick) Collins had,” the Green Bay Packers veteran cornerback said of Burnett. “I think he’s going to be a multiple Pro Bowler one day myself. You can mark that down. I believe that. He has that type of skill set. He can cover the field well. We’ll see.

“Write that down.”

Burnett, a third-round pick from Georgia Tech two years ago, suffered a season-ending knee injury (torn ACL) four games into his rookie season in 2010 and struggled at times last year after Collins, a three-time Pro Bowl player, suffered a season-ending and possibly career-ending neck injury on Sept. 18 at Carolina. He wound up starting all 16 regular-season games last season and had three interceptions, one sack and 14 pass breakups while playing much of the season with a cast to protect a broken hand. He had another interception in the playoff loss to the New York Giants.

Burnett. who had a stellar day in practice Tuesday with an interception, a breakup of a deep Aaron Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson pass and a strip fumble on running back Alex Green, said he is focusing on being a better communicator as the signal-caller in the secondary, and now that he’s being paired with veteran Charles Woodson at safety in the base defense, that should help him in that area. At the same time, he’s not the most outgoing guy, so being vocal is an emphasis.

“I have to take control of the secondary and just be loud and clear with my communication, try to get everyone on the same page,” Burnett said. “As a secondary and as a defense as a whole, we all have to communicate out there and make sure we’re all on the same page of putting ourselves in the right position to make plays.”

According to his head coach, Burnett is doing just that.

“I think Morgan is one of our young players who is stepping to the forefront. I think he’ll definitely be someone they’ll be talking about throughout the league,” McCarthy said. “I think he’s ready for that type of season. His communication is outstanding. To have him and Charles back there you have two very cerebral individuals to communicate the adjustments and I think he’s off to a good start with his camp.”

Williams said he formulated his opinion about Burnett right when he arrived as a rookie, and what he’s seen since has simply reinforced his opinion.

“I thought that right away of Morgan, just what I saw he can do just from the skill set of covering that field. If you can do that in this game – it’s a passing league now – you’re going to make a lot of plays,” Williams said. “He made some of those plays last year. I expect a lot from him.

“There’s going to be growing pains. With anybody there will. You’re going to have those plays here and there. But at the end of the day, he’s going to continue to grow as a player, continue to make the right plays and know the right things to do in those situations. That was really only his first year last year, if you think about it. So he’s kind of second-year in. He’s going to be much better.”

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