Valentine’s ‘Night and Day’ Physical Improvement Provides Confidence

Green Bay Packers second-year cornerback Carrington Valentine put on nearly 15 pounds this offseason to become a tougher physical test for opposing receivers.
Nov 19, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Carrington Valentine (37) celebrates after Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) dropped a pass late in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 19, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Carrington Valentine (37) celebrates after Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) dropped a pass late in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports / Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports
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For Green Bay Packers cornerback Carrington Valentine, everything was a competition when growing up. The youngest of four siblings, with the three others also being athletes, the young Valentine learned that he would have to earn whatever he wanted.

That mindset has carried Valentine to early success in the NFL, starting 12 games for the Packers in his rookie season. Being thrust into the fire due to injuries to Eric Stokes and Jaire Alexander and the midseason trade of Rasul Douglas gave Valentine the chance to learn the details of the game and the tweaks he would have to make.

"I learned a lot," Valentine said on Tuesday after minicamp practice. "I really through the whole – from the start to the middle to the end, I learned who I was as a player. I learned what worked, what didn’t work. So, yeah, now I know my identity of who I am and what I've got to do to take that next step."

That next step for Valentine this offseason was adding weight and strength to his build. After playing at 189 pounds last season, Valentine reported for minicamp at more than 200 pounds. For coach Matt LaFleur, Valentine's physical improvements have been noticeable on the practice field in setting up a training camp battle with Stokes.

"That’s a guy that stands out," LaFleur said, "quite frankly, in my mind, in terms of just we challenged him to put on some weight after the regular season. He came back and he definitely looks bigger and he is bigger and he’s stronger"

The extra strength has made Valentine a more confident player than he already was when he stepped on to the field as a fearless rookie.

"I always had the confidence, anyway," he said. "But when you put on more weight, it just keeps building your confidence honestly. I feel great. I feel healthy. I feel fast. I feel like the sky is the limit."

The confidence has translated to a smooth learning curve for the 22-year-old in a new scheme under defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley. With new coverages and details to learn, Valentine has been steadfast in learning.

"Obviously, there’s some different things that we’re asking these guys to do from a defensive perspective," LaFleur said, "and I think he’s approached it the right way. The one thing you can always count on him is when he goes out there to compete, he’s going to give it his all. I think when you approach it that way, you make huge jumps, huge improvements."

Valentine's work ethic has rubbed off on the rest of the defensive secondary. With a player as determined as Valentine competing for opportunities, there's more pressure on those in front of him. He's a key piece of the competition the Packers want at every position this offseason.

"He’s really pushing the guys in front of him," LaFleur said, "and it’s exciting because we’ve got a lot of different guys I feel like in particular in the back end at the corner position to go in there and play ball for us."

Battling for more opportunities will be nothing new for Valentine. According to him, nothing has ever been handed to him and he doesn't want that to change now. He's fueled from doubts from recruiters whether a 178-pound, three-star prospect would be able to hold up in the college game. Being drafted in the final round of the 2023 NFL Draft, behind 29 other cornerbacks, is also seared into his mind.

"I’m never going to forget my draft experience ever," he said. "But now it’s what I’m going to do with it. I’m going to make the most of it and try to build something behind my name. I guess it don’t really matter where you got drafted. It’s just the opportunity you get and what you’re going to do with it."

Valentine brings this mindset to the football field (and, as Jordan Love learned, to the baseball diamond, too). Every matchup is a chance for him to win and prove himself.

"He a dawg, honestly," Valentine said in describing himself. "That’s who I am. Hard-worker, I’m a competitor. I’m always going to strain. I’m always going talk a little, as well. Just my personality. I don’t really care who you are. I don’t care if you’re All-Pro, Hall of Famer. At the end of the day, you got to beat me. That’s who I am."

Valentine has improved in nearly every facet since arriving in Green Bay last spring. LaFleur expects that to continue.

"The guy loves football. He loves to compete and I’m excited for him. I think he’s got a really bright future."

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Joey Van Zummeren

JOEY VAN ZUMMEREN