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Progress By Justin Bethel

Posted Aug 15, 2013

Notebook: Cornerback learning his position; Cooper tries to battle nerves

Cornerback Justin Bethel backpedals during a recent practice.

Justin Bethel came out on the field before a recent training camp practice 30 minutes before it was to start and long before his next teammate.

The second-year defensive back, wearing his full pads, went in the corner to work on his press coverage on blocking dummies. He is still used to being a full-time cornerback.

When Bethel was drafted a season ago, his freakish athletic ability made him a special-teams standout immediately. But he was a man without a true position. Previous defensive coordinator Ray Horton used him at both safety and cornerback. When new coordinator Todd Bowles arrived, it was decided he’d concentrate at corner, even though it had been awhile since he had done so.

“It’s still a transition for me,” Bethel said. “I haven’t really played corner, seriously all out, since my freshman year in college. It’s something I wanted to do since I got here. But with Coach (Kevin) Ross and Pat (Peterson), JP (Jerraud Powers), having all them, they have helped me with my technique. I feel like I am getting better.”

Coach Bruce Arians said he was pleased with the progress Bethel has made, and felt it was important for him to settle into one position. Bethel’s big advantage is his special teams work, which all but guarantees him a roster spot.

“He’s going to be here,” Arians said. “He needs to be that corner in the dime and he has a résumé on special teams that sets him apart from the other corners he’s competing with. They’ve got to beat him out.”

Bethel shakes his head when he hears the comment. It’s flattering, he said, but he’d rather not listen.

“I don’t even like to think like that,” Bethel said. “I like to come in thinking I have to make the team like everyone else. I don’t want to be complacent. Even hearing that, there is great competition. You don’t know what will happen.”

JITTERY COOPER TRYING TO FOCUS

First-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper was dropped into the starting lineup as soon as he signed and the guard played “like a rookie,” Arians said, in his first game in Green Bay.

That’s Cooper’s goal this week against Dallas, to “not look like a rookie out there.” Against the Packers, Cooper said he was “kind of wild and flailing, instead of being smooth.” That was due to nervousness, and he admitted he still feels that a little.

“My coach said my focus should be not to depend on athleticism but depend on technique,” Cooper said, noting that his technique was the first thing to suffer because if his emotions.

ARIANS ON THE RUN

Arians wants to be able to run the ball. Having starting running back Rashard Mendenhall back on the field Saturday should help. But philosophically, Arians reiterated he isn’t one to get bogged down in the statistics of running as much as what it accomplishes.

“Just run the ball well when we want to run it,” Arians said. “At the end of the game or in the beginning. We want to be balanced. I don’t care about numbers. I’ve never seen anyone get any points for running it 30 times a game. I’ve won a lot of games running it 15 times a game and still had 100 yards. Ran it 33 times and gained 95 yards and it was enough to win the game because it was the way we wanted to play the game. Statistics and running games, I don’t buy it. Just run it when we need to run it.”


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