GREEN BAY, Wis. – In less than six months, Rasul Douglas’ career sounds a bit like a Johnny Cash song.
He’s been everywhere, man.
While Douglas hasn’t played for Spirit Lake, Grand Lake, Devils Lake or Crater Lake, he has spent time in Las Vegas, Houston, Arizona and, now, Green Bay, for Pete’s sake.
A third-round pick by Philadelphia in 2017, Douglas played in 46 games with 18 starts during three seasons with the Eagles. He failed to stick for a fourth season, though. Released at the end of training camp, he was claimed off waivers by Carolina, for which he started a career-high 11 games last season.
A free agent this past offseason, Douglas signed with the Raiders but was released toward the end of training camp. He spent a few days with the Texans as nothing more than a camp body to get through the preseason finale. A few days later, he signed to the Cardinals’ practice squad.
On Wednesday, he was swiped by the Packers, who are still grappling with All-Pro Jaire Alexander’s shoulder injury.
That’s six teams, showing that, A, he’s been a major disappointment or, B, teams continue to see the potential in the 6-foot-2 cornerback.
“In Philly, it was a great situation,” Douglas said after Thursday’s practice, his second with the Packers. “First year, I was behind two great guys. That was good. And then they went on to get deals. Jalen Mills got a deal with New England and Ronald Darby got a deal in Denver. So, I was behind those two guys. I think I started coming on my second year, started making plays for myself. Then Year 4, I really don’t know what happened but I was released.
“And then in Carolina, I did good until Week 7, when I caught COVID, and it was hard bouncing back from there. Getting back into the game plan was kind of hard. And then the GM firing. It was good. I think I kind of came on and made a good deal for myself there. And then with the Raiders, I was doing good but things didn’t work out. Houston, I didn’t expect to make the team. I was only there one day. And then Arizona, I came on after camp. There’s really no competition period anymore if you’re not there in camp. You’re kind of just a scout guy. It’s really hard to jump from scout team to starter unless injuries happen. So, I was just working my craft, working my technique and making sure, in case the situation appeared, I was ready.”
That situation happened on Sunday, when Alexander suffered a significant shoulder injury. The Packers had been trying to improve their cornerback room for months, drafting Eric Stokes in the first round and Shemar Jean-Charles in the fifth, adding Dominique Martin and acquiring Isaac Yiadom in a trade in the middle of training camp, and taking a late shot on Stephen Denmark. Douglas was already in Green Bay when the Packers tried to land Stephon Gilmore.
Douglas has been in this situation before, having joined the Panthers during the week of their opening game last year.
“Me and (cornerbacks coach Evan) Cooper stayed after practice every day – kind of the same thing I’m doing now – just to learn it,” Douglas recalled. “They basically told me, ‘You’re going to dress but you’re not going to really play.’ So, that was my goal. I was just cheerleading at first until Donte Jackson messed his ankle up and Coach was like, ‘You’ve got to go out there. We don’t have anybody else. Go out there.’”
He played 51 snaps that day, started the next five games – a streak interrupted by COVID – and logged a career-high 821 snaps for the season. According to Pro Football Focus and its best guess at coverage responsibilities, he allowed a 64.9 percent completion rate with four touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 106.8 passer rating. He allowed three catches (three targets) for only 18 yards during a December game against the Packers. In 2019 with Philadelphia, he allowed three catches (six targets) for just 22 yards against the Packers.
The 27-year-old, who said he’s always wished he could do a Lambeau Leap, believes this could be just the opportunity he needs to find some stability in his career.
“I think it’s a great chance,” he said. “Just got to learn the defense and what my job is and all the plays. But I definitely think this is a great opportunity for me.”