Just a few months after being a regular starter for the Carolina Panthers, Rasul Douglas found himself turning into an NFL journeyman.
From August 23 to August 31 of last year, Douglas was released by two NFL teams. He was signed to the Arizona Cardinals practice squad a few days later.
Coming off a career-high in tackles (62) and starts (11), he was looking for a chance to be an impact player again.
Douglas got that chance with the Green Bay Packers, who signed the former West Virginia cornerback on October 6, 2021. Five and a half months later, Douglas signed a three-year, $21 million contract to stay in Green Bay.
“I was hoping. I didn’t know – you never know,” Douglas told Packers reporters late last month. “That’s the business. But I was hoping I would be here. I love it here.”
In 12 games with the Packers, Douglas collected 57 total tackles, a career-high five interceptions, and returned two of them for touchdowns.
He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week on the strength of his game-sealing interception in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. Douglas also earned the best grade on his season report card by Pro Football Focus among former Mountaineers.
Asked if he could believe how last season went, Douglas said confidently, “I can. I work hard. Eventually, it pays off.”
The biggest stride that Douglas has made in his work ethic is his maturation in the film room.
As a younger player, he found himself getting caught up in who he was watching, instead of looking for techniques and tendencies in the opposition’s game.
“Early in my career, I didn’t know how to watch film. It was kind of like watching a show that you watched a thousand times,” said Douglas. “So, it was getting boring, I was falling asleep because I didn’t really know what I was supposed to look at.”
Now, he watches film like a pro, and can dissect what he sees on the tape. And it’s allowed him to fit in seamlessly with a talented Packers secondary that includes Pro Bowler Jaire Alexander.
“I tell them all the time, Eric Stokes and Rasul, they play as good as any All-Pro corners that I’ve seen,” Alexander said last week. “Sky’s the limit at this point.”
Alexander, the highest-paid defensive back in the NFL, said he didn’t know much about Douglas before he arrived in Green Bay. But he was quickly impressed by what he saw.
“When he got here, day one he was like, ‘What do I do here? What I got here? What you see here?'” said Alexander. “And I like that because it shows that he cared.”
After playing just one game in Green Bay last year, Douglas knew he wanted to be there long-term. He told head coach Matt LaFleur just a few moments after the Packers were eliminated from the postseason.
“I wanted to be here,” said Douglas. “And I think my teammates and my coaches wanted me to be here, as well. So, it was always kind of a mutual decision.”