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5 things to know about Packers safeties coach Ryan Downard

Young defensive assistant earns promotion


GREEN BAY – In the most recent round of moves with his coaching staff, Head Coach Matt LaFleur has promoted Ryan Downard to safeties coach from his previous position of assistant defensive backs coach.

Here are five things to know about Downard:

1. He's a holdover from Mike McCarthy's final Packers staff.

Downard, 33, originally joined the Packers as a defensive quality control coach in 2018, McCarthy's final season. He came to Green Bay along with former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, for whom he'd worked for two years as a defensive assistant with Cleveland when Pettine was the Browns' head coach (2014-15).

2. He's been working with the Packers' defensive backs the last three seasons.

First under secondary coach Jason Simmons in 2019 and then defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray beginning in 2020, Downard has worked with that position group throughout LaFleur's tenure.

At his other NFL stop in Cleveland, Downard worked with the Browns' defensive backs in 2015 and defensive line in 2014.

3. He played defensive back, too.

At Eastern Michigan, Downard was a mainstay in the secondary as a college player. He intercepted six passes as a redshirt freshman in 2007 to earn Freshman All-America honorable mention from and became a team captain by his senior year.

He also played briefly in the German Football League for the Dresden Monarchs in 2011.

4. His coaching career has included three college stops.

Downard began his coaching career in 2013 as a graduate assistant, first at Toledo and then Texas Tech, where he worked with former Packers outside linebackers coach Mike Smith.

After the two years in Cleveland, he moved on to Bowling Green State, where he served as director of football operations in 2016 before coaching the safeties in 2017.

5. Back in high school, he played some QB.

At Shawnee High in his hometown of Lima, Ohio, Downard was a two-way star and first-team all-state player his last two years – playing wide receiver and defensive back as a junior, and then playing quarterback and defensive back as a senior. He helped lead his school to its first ever postseason playoff game.