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Green Bay Packers defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Jerry Gray is happy with the performance so far from cornerback Eric Stokes, and the rookie’s play in Week 2 should get him on the field more moving forward.
Stokes, the Packers’ first-round pick, played 44 snaps against the Detroit Lions and delivered two pass-breakups and forced three incompletions total.
“I think Eric is doing a really good job right now,” Gray said Thursday. “He’s making his plays.”
Stokes has only allowed one catch during his first two NFL games. He’s also the highest-graded rookie cornerback at Pro Football Focus.
Gray said Stokes did a terrific job finding the ball in the air, especially on the fourth-down pass breakup in the end zone in the second half on Monday night. He believes a young cornerback able to get his head around, find the ball in the air and not panic or grab the receiver is a confident cornerback.
“Making plays helps confidence, especially when you’re a rookie and most of the balls are coming at you,” Gray said.
Stokes was tight in coverage and contested a 4th-and-1 throw to Quintez Cephus in the third quarter, creating an incompletion and a huge turning point in the Packers’ 35-17 win.
“That’s going to warrant him more plays,” Gray said.
The Packers got Stokes on the field as a perimeter cornerback by putting Kevin King and Jaire Alexander into the slot more against the Lions. The setup could continue on Sunday in San Francisco.
The performance wasn’t perfect. Stokes and King had a coverage breakdown on the Lions’ first touchdown pass, and the rookie wasn’t in perfect position in quarters coverage on the Lions’ second touchdown pass.
Gray said the Lions fooled Stokes’ eyes on the touchdown pass from Jared Goff to T.J. Hockenson. With better discipline and more experience, the rookie could have fallen off coverage and had a chance at an interception.
“When you’re in quarters, you should intercept that play,” Gray said.