GREEN BAY – The Packers' defensive and special teams assistant coaches spoke with the media over the past couple of days. Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On getting De'Vondre Campbell back:
He said it and I firmly believe it. I still think he has his best football in front of him. It was huge to get him back, just for everything, for our team, for our locker room, of course, for our defense, our huddle. He's a stud.
On Jaire Alexander's return:
I'm just looking forward to getting 23 back on the field healthy and back to himself. I think no one really realizes what he did just to get back for us for the playoff game … It was brutal, it was devastating when we lost Ja, but that's what just makes it so much more exciting when you get a player of his caliber, when you get him back healthy.
On adding Quay Walker at LB:
You look at what that did for our defense last year with Dre and that's what Quay proved – if you watch any Georgia football game last year, it's hard not to see '7' flying around making plays. He has that ability. He has that skill set and I think he has the mindset of what you want.
Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
On what he's looking for in a return man:
First is, does the guy want to go back there and do something with it special, or does he want to go back there and get us to offense? So I think we have some guys that have done it before but we're looking forward to seeing how they fit.
On competition in special teams:
Competition's a big deal around here, we start that way in the morning in the meetings, so we're really looking for the effort and the finish of what our guys are being asked to do. They're showing us a lot about themselves. The evidence of a player is really his effort, and seeing that in the finish. Are they paying attention in meetings? We're throwing a lot of information at them, we keep teaching them a new system. Are they learning it? Are they retaining it? Do they do it correctly the next day if they did it wrong the day before? So I think they're competing with themselves really every day.
On coaching players with different attitudes about special teams:
This is how they make a living. We're going to try to put them in a position where they can keep playing football to earn what they're trying to earn to help us win games. We've approached special teams in the length of time we've done it as an avenue for you to become a professional football player. If you look back at Ronde Barber in Year 17, he was on the kickoff team, he came off the edge on field goals, and he played on punt return. I think it has a lot to do with the makeup of the person, and really the only 'I' we want to hear right now is what I can do to help us win. That's what we're trying to do with all our players.
Defensive backs coach/pass game coordinator Jerry Gray
On different corners playing the slot:
I think it'll be Jaire, I think it'll be Eric Stokes, I think it'll be Rasul Douglas. It could be Darnell Savage. We've got a lot of good guys that can play in the slot. That's the best part. We don't have just one guy. Our guys are, hey coach, I want to go play in there. You know why? There's a lot of action at the nickel, and everybody wants to be in the action. They want to compete. I want guys that want to compete and go out and play.
On Alexander returning for the playoff game last year:
The mental part, that's the hurdle that every player has to go through that's hurt, because now he doesn't want to get hurt again. So is he going to give you 100 percent when he gets on the football field? Is he going to be timid? What type of guy are you gonna get? And I think the playoff game gave us a sense that, you know what, he'll be back and he'll be ready to go, because he wasn't trying to protect himself. When you get past the mental part, you'll go back to being who you are.
Defensive line/run game coordinator Jerry Montgomery
On first-round draft pick Devonte Wyatt:
He can be really good on first and second down, and he's an inside guy that has some unique traits as a pass rusher. Some things you can't teach, you just naturally have. He's got twitch. I'd like to call it awkward movements, some movements he can be out in that other guys can't be and he can recover from those things. And he's got a high motor, just a naturally high motor. So, really, really good defensive line traits.
On seventh-round pick Jonathan Ford:
He looks great, good-looking dude, massive body. Now we've just got to get him to do what we need him to do at a high level. He's going to go through some ups and downs, but it's been a really good rookie minicamp with those guys. And now that they're back here, we're learning something new every day. Their heads are spinning.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On first-round pick Quay Walker:
He understands football, he understands the little aspects of football that you need to have and there's a base there that is easy to work with. So those guys at Georgia have done a really good job with probably all those players, but in particular Quay. You can tell that he enjoys football. Not just playing football, he enjoys the process of football and enjoys talking it, studying it.
On De'Vondre Campbell as the leader of the group:
'Dre gives advice at good times. He's not going to sit there and tell you what to do all the time. But he gives advice at good times. I try to make the atmosphere in our room one that everybody can talk, because you can learn from everybody in the room. Some of that is the experience that he has and knowing when guys are ready to listen. There's an old quote from Dusty Baker. He was a manager for 30-some years in baseball, and he said the worst mistake we can make as coaches is to try and dump 32 years of knowledge into a guy in 10 minutes. So I think 'Dre has a sense of that, also.
Outside linebackers coach Jason Rebrovich
On Preston Smith's leadership:
Absolutely. His presence alone, you're dealing with a 6-5, 6-6, 270-pound guy. When you walk in a room, you're going to know who the hell he is. Yes, does he sit there as a nine-year veteran in the league and garner other people looking at him going, 'Wow, he's done it for a while. I want to do that also.' Yeah, absolutely.
On stepping into the new job:
Jerry Montgomery and I and the defense, we're working more together as a collective group up front, and not just have a bunch of independent contractors where we know each other and how to work with each other. I think that's a special thing where Kenny Clark's going to be different than Dean Lowry and Dean Lowry's going to be different than Preston Smith. But we've all got to know who each other are and what our strengths and weaknesses are so we can play off each other. That, to me, is part of the deal of those guys understanding each other a little bit more. That's something that I can bring in here from the places that I've been before.
Safeties coach Ryan Downard
On sixth-round pick Tariq Carpenter:
I like him. Love the questions that he's asking right now. Looking at him in rookie minicamp, he really can move for as big as he is. That to me was the best or the biggest impression he made on me – just his movement skills for his size, and like I said, he's asking some really good questions in meetings.
On Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage playing together for a fourth season:
It's great. Some things are unsaid. From a coaching standpoint, we always say we want you to communicate. We want you to signal. We gotta be on the same page and we talk to the safeties about the communications between you two first on the back end. If you two guys are on the same page, now we can echo it to your side of the field. It's just like a relationship. They've been together for so long they can look at each other and they know what the other one's thinking because they've been in that position hundreds of times together.