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Sports >  NFL

Packers’ Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Quinton Dial up the Green Bay-’Bama connection

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 7, 2017, 5:18 p.m.

In this Nov. 28, 2016 file photo, Green Bay Packers’ Ha Ha Clinton-Dix reacts after an interception during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia. The Alabama connection is still strong in Green Bay with newly-signed defensive lineman Quinton Dial joining Clinton-Dix as Packers who played with the Crimson Tide. (Michael Perez / Associated Press)
In this Nov. 28, 2016 file photo, Green Bay Packers’ Ha Ha Clinton-Dix reacts after an interception during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia. The Alabama connection is still strong in Green Bay with newly-signed defensive lineman Quinton Dial joining Clinton-Dix as Packers who played with the Crimson Tide. (Michael Perez / Associated Press)
By Genaro C. Armas Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Quinton Dial had been cut from the San Francisco 49ers when he received a text from an old college teammate from Alabama.

Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had figured out that Green Bay was interested in bringing Dial in for a visit. The scheme that the Packers run was similar to what Dial and Clinton-Dix played in with the Crimson Tide, and what the 49ers used to run before switching to a 4-3 system this year.

Dial was not happy about the change in schemes.

“I’m just being honest with you. It’s the business. It was (49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s) decision and that’s what we wanted and that’s what he went with.”

Throw in the fact that the Packers are one of the favorites in the NFC to get to the Super Bowl, and signing in Green Bay seemed like an ideal fit.

Clinton-Dix smiled after practice on Thursday when he looked across the locker room and saw his friend wearing the same uniform again.

“We came in together at Alabama. He’s been a guy that I’ve always looked up to,” Clinton-Dix said about his new teammate. “He’ll fit in fine. It’s the same system we ran back in college (and) he’s really familiar with it.”

There is a bit of a learning curve with a new playbook.

“It’s basically all the same stuff, just getting acclimated to the terminology,” Dial said.

The five-year veteran is the latest addition in a flurry of an uncharacteristically high number of free agent signings or veteran additions for the Packers, at least under general manager Ted Thompson.

In the past week, the Packers have added Dial and his former 49ers teammate, linebacker Ahmad Brooks. They also claimed defensive end Chris Odom off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons.

The 6-foot-5, 318-pound Dial appeared in 46 games with 32 starts for the 49ers, with 175 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks. He’ll be asked to provide veteran depth up front after the Packers released lineman Letroy Guion earlier in the preseason.

Dial doesn’t seem too worried about the adjustment to a Green Bay scheme that’s based on a 3-4 look.

“It’s kind of my bread and butter, this 3-4 deal. I’ve kind of been doing this for a while now,” Dial said.

Clinton-Dix described Dial as “physical, accountable” and a playmaker.

Sounds a lot like what Clinton-Dix has become in Green Bay. He’s coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance, combining with strong safety Morgan Burnett to form one of the league’s best safety tandems.

They’ll encounter another top safety duo on Sunday in Seattle’s Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

“Being that those two guys (are) elite safeties on their team, two guys that I look up to and have so much respect for, I feel like when I play against their team, I have to showcase my skills and show I am one of the best guys in this league,” Clinton-Dix said.

Clinton-Dix and Dial will also be tasked with helping to stop another former Alabama teammate in running back Eddie Lacy. He’ll make his debut with the Seahawks after spending his first four seasons in the league in Green Bay.

“Me personally, I don’t plan on letting him get anything going on this field here,” Clinton-Dix said. “But he’s definitely going to have a chip on his shoulder and he’s definitely got a point to prove coming in here.”

NOTES: CBs Davon House (hamstring) and Kevin King (groin) were upgraded to full participants in practice Thursday, a good sign for the Packers since it is the team’s most extensive practice of the week. Starting RT Bryan Bulaga (ankle) was limited for a second straight day.

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