When the Packers signed free agent defensive back James Whitley Wednesday, it
was the team’s latest move to keep up with the injuries and inconsistencies on
Whitley, waived by the St. Louis Rams Tuesday, comes in to help a secondary
depleted by a rash of recent injuries. Safety Antuan Edwards tore a hamstring
muscle vs. Detroit, when he started in place of Darren Sharper who bruised his
lung the previous week. Edwards is out and Sharper is back, but upon his return
backups Bhawoh Jue (groin) and Michael Hawthorne (hip) were injured.
“We’re a little thin back there right now,” Mike Sherman said when he
addressed the media Wednesday. “This young man on tape is shown to be a good
special teams player, has the ability to possibly play corner and safety. So
he’s another one of those combo-type players who can help us.”
Whitley is recovering from off-season foot surgery, and played in three games
for St. Louis this season.
“I’m not going to be 100 percent for a while, but in the game of football,
you have to play injured,” Whitley said.
Throughout last season and in his limited playing time in ’03, Whitley played
cornerback, nickel back and both safety positions for the Rams, but was edged
out by the emergence of Rams’ standout DB Fred Weary. Other key members of the
St. Louis secondary have also recently returned from injury, leaving little room
for Whitley. He leaves a defense that ranks second in the NFC in passing yards
allowed per game and is tied for the NFC lead with 19 interceptions.
Meanwhile, the Packers have plenty of room for help on defense. Also in an
effort to shore up the secondary, Erwin Swiney was brought up from the Packers’
practice squad last week.