Anderson’s Three Interceptions at Minicamp Provide ‘Confidence Boost’

Safety Zayne Anderson was the star of Green Bay Packers minicamp on Tuesday with three interceptions.
Zayne Anderson
Zayne Anderson / Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – In 50 games during six seasons at BYU, Zayne Anderson intercepted three passes. At Green Bay Packers minicamp on Tuesday, the safety also intercepted three passes.

“He had a heck of a day, huh?” coach Matt LaFleur said. “Anytime you come out with one pick, let alone three, I’d say that’s a pretty good day.”

Anderson entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2021. After two years with the Chiefs, he spent last year’s training camp with the Bills. He was released by Buffalo at the end of camp and joined the Packers off waivers. He didn’t play a single snap on defense until the end of the playoff win at Dallas.

Last year was a challenge, having joined the Packers after camp and having to learn the defensive and special-teams schemes on the fly. This year will be a challenge, too, with the Packers signing Xavier McKinney and drafting Javon Bullard, Evan Williams and Kitan Oladapo.

Will three interceptions against Sean Clifford on June 11 mean anything in the grand scheme of Anderson’s spot in the congested and presumably upgraded safety room? Probably not.

But it obviously won’t hurt.

“It’s a very competitive room, so you have a day like that, it’s a big confidence boost,” Anderson said. “But it’s also, ‘On to the next.’ You get three big plays, then it’s on to the next. That’s kind of how this league goes. Put the past in the past and get ready for the next one.”

Anderson hasn’t had an interception in a game since 2018 at Wisconsin. He said he had a two-interception practice with the Chiefs.

On Tuesday, the first of the interceptions came in the red zone. The second went off the hands of receiver Grant DuBose. The third came during a 2-minute drill at the end of practice.

“I think once you get one and two, it’s like a magnet,” he said. “Once the ball’s out, go make a play. That last one was kind of a gimme, but I’ll take it. I like gimmes. Keep throwing ‘em.”

Anderson was inactive for the first seven games last season. Playing in the final 10, he had four tackles on special teams and added a fifth in the playoffs.

“Certainly, he did a great job” with the interceptions, LaFleur said. “One of those in particular was definitely a gift, but he made the layup.

“Zayne always approaches it the right way and gives great effort. He started to gain some confidence as a player last season, especially on we-fense [special teams]. And then to see him get more opportunities on defense and go out there and make plays, I think that’s exciting. It’s a heck of a competition, just with the caliber of players that we have in that room.”

Special teams, obviously, will be his ticket to sticking on the 53-man roster for a second consecutive year. That’s a role he embraces.

“I love special teams,” he said, and his goal is to be one of the best players in the NFL in that phase. Thus, he has no intentions of fading into the background. Sure, the Packers added four safeties this offseason, but their top three performers from last year – Darnell Savage, Rudy Ford and Jonathan Owens – were not retained in free agency.

“I think it all starts with embracing your role,” he said. “Doesn’t matter where that is, whether it’s special teams, do that the best you possibly can. I was undrafted, so it’s nothing new to me to have guys get drafted or big contracts come in. It’s another challenge, and you just control what you can control.

“Your reps, make those the best reps possible. That’s kind of been my attitude. I don’t care how many reps I’m getting, I’m going to make those reps count. So, a day like today, it’s always a good feeling.”

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Bill Huber

BILL HUBER

Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: packwriter2002@yahoo.com History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: https://twitter.com/BillHuberNFL Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and PackerReport.com. In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.