Allen Park – Three weeks ago, Kerry Hyder was a guy fighting for a roster spot. Now, the Detroit Lions defensive end has the attention of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“Yeah, he’s done a great job,” Rodgers said during a Wednesday conference call. “You look out there and see 61, that’s not always a defensive end number. I can’t think of another guy wearing that number, but a high-effort player, he’s making a lot of plays.
“You’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, he never became a victim of his circumstances. He definitely must have a great work ethic and a lot of confidence because he’s really made himself into a solid player.”
More than a dozen players wear No. 61 around the NFL, but all but two are offensive linemen. The only defensive players sporting the number are Kerry and Rodgers’ teammate, linebacker Brett Goode.
It’s common for players to switch numbers prior to the regular season, when rosters are pared from 90 to 53, but Hyder opted to stick with his unique uniform for a reason.
“Yeah, it’s just to remember the hard work I’ve put in,” Hyder said. “I don’t want to ever get comfortable with where I’m at, so I just look at my number and remember the days where I had no choice. That’s why I continue to wear it.”
Hyder, who wore 91 in college, admits he would consider a change if that number became available. That might not happen anytime soon in Detroit where it’s currently owned by defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, the team’s second-round draft pick this year.
Rodgers clearly appreciates Hyder’s story.
“Those are the type of guys that you pull for,” Rodgers said. “Maybe not when you’re playing them, but the guys who work themselves up to an active role and make a difference.”
Hyder admits he heard Rodgers’ praise, and while it’s meaningful, the defensive lineman won’t let them get to his head.
“He’s obviously a great quarterback and he’s done great things,” Hyder said. “It means a lot to come from him, but I’ve just got to keep working. I appreciate the compliment, but I can’t let it get to my head or anything like that. I just have to continue to work and not read the papers.”
Hyder has three sacks through two games. He is tied for second in the NFL behind Von Miller’s four.