Jaire Alexander and Kevin King can be 'a heck of a tandem'

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GREEN BAY – The Packers’ coordinators and defensive assistant coaches spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon. Here are some highlights from their news conferences:

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine

On Detroit’s offense now compared to Week 5:

The quarterback is still there. No. 19 is still there, Golloday, he’s been impressive. He’s probably in the top three or four underrated receivers in the league. All he does is catch the ball and get behind the defense’s secondary. … You can see they’ve made more of a commitment to run the ball the last six weeks. Stafford at the helm and Riddick in the backfield can give you problems, we’re looking forward to the challenge. Obviously it is very different from the first time we’ve played them, but it is for us, too.

On process of exit interviews next week:

I’ve always liked to get with the unit on Monday before they get out of town. The hard part is giving them rules once they’re out of the building. You can’t really do that. We’ll try to arm them with an offseason plan – hey, this is what you’re doing well. This is what you need to work on. I always like to meet with them as a unit, have position coaches work with them and just get their thoughts from a player’s perspective.

On whether players can improve tackling in the offseason:

I don’t know how much on their own unless you want to go grab some of your buddies. I know they have those remote controlled dummies now. It’s tough. One of the things we have to look at during the offseason as a staff, we have to get better at it. We have certain offseason projects and that’s where we use our resources and talk to guys around the league.

On getting the most out of this group of defensive players:

I think we did get a lot out of this group and I think it’s a product of their buy-in. It’s an outstanding coaching staff. It’s one of the best group of coaches I’ve been with. They’re not afraid to bring things up the right way for the betterment of the group. It definitely was a learning experience. We had some good moments, but had some bad ones, as well. That’s all part of the offseason, as well, and evaluating the why – why those things happen? But we have one more to go. That’s where our focus is.

Special-teams coordinator Ron Zook

On miscues and confidence on Andre Roberts’ returns:

You have to come back. That’s as bad a game as we’ve had since I’ve been here. The frustrating thing for us and me a little bit was we practiced that exact play and that call, but they performed it better than we did. That’s part of the experience you have to have when you have inexperienced guys. We’re playing a lot of young guys who haven’t covered a lot of kicks.

On facing another tough returner this week:

You have to get back up. That’s just part of the game. Joe has done a great job talking to the team. Mo and I have to make sure we build them up, work on the things that happened this week and hopefully get them correct.

On difference in the fake punts the past two weeks:

It was the same call. Our tackles were a little wider. They were standing up. You have to be prepared for it all the time. I don’t’ know if I would have made a different call, just made sure those guys were down. It was a gutsy call on their part and it worked out for them. … It was a call they made based on the point of the game.

On punter JK Scott:

He’s going through a little bit of what rookies do. He’ll be better next year just because he’ll understand what’s coming. As you get into this time of the year, weather, obviously he didn’t punted the way he needs to punt this past week. We talked a little about that. It’s a long year for these rookies. Some guys handle it better than others. Obviously he has some work to do.

Defensive run-game coordinator/inside linebackers Patrick Graham

On Oren Burks:

I think OB’s development is coming along. He’s a rookie. He’s improving. He’s looking for more consistency. We’re looking for more consistency. His ability to improve his football position is a big thing for me – eyes, hands and base. That is going to propel him to be a better football player. It’s all a growing process, especially as a rookie. He’s done a good job with what we’ve given him. … He’s long, he’s physical. He’s a smart player. He can handle multiples. That’s something that’s definitely going to help him in the (nickel) packages.

On Blake Martinez:

There have been some games recently where I’ve been really proud how this guy has grown as a football player. I’ve been privileged to coach some really good players and … I can see him apply the nuggets I’ve given to him and use them in critical moments. I don’t have many other hobbies besides coaching and my family. I get my joy from that. There have been some games where he’s made the right decision and right call when we needed it. He’s definitely grown as a football player in my eyes.

Defensive pass-game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr.

On being a head coach someday:

Oh yes, I want to be a head coach. That’s one of my aspirations. I want to be a defensive coordinator first. I want to call plays. I know I’m ready for it. I also know I’m ready to lead a team. You just worry about the job you have, and opportunities will come. Hopefully that will happen.

On Tony Brown:

He’s shown a level of physicality that’s good. l like the way Tony and Jaire play the game. From an emotional standpoint, he’s playing with a lot of passion. Sometimes you have to harness it. He’s a tough kid, he wants to get better… but he’s a rookie. He’s going to make mistakes and you have to live with some of those, but you don’t ever have to worry about how hard the kid is going to play.

On the future of the Alexander-King duo:

I would have loved to see the combination of Jaire and Kevin King this year, with Tramon or whoever else, in the nickel. But that didn’t happen. I do know Jaire is an outstanding young talent. I do know Kevin King, when healthy, can be dominant. I know if I’m coaching the group next year or if someone else is coaching the group next year, they’ll have a heck of a tandem.

On the challenges this year:

How many guys have been in the room who have not been in training camp? There’s more of those guys than who were in training camp. The energy, the communication and those types of things have been solid. If we can keep healthy bodies, it would be a little bit different.

Secondary coach Jason Simmons

On Josh Jackson:

There’s a lot of room for improvement with him. That’s what we look at and are happy about. We’re asking him to do a lot of things. He’s played nickel, dime, he’s matched slot receivers. He has a lot of room for growth. He knows it. We’re excited about it. … He’s so versatile. He can do so much. He can go out there and match guys outside vertically. Whenever you have a guy who’s so versatile, we move them around a lot.

On challenges of roster turnover in the secondary:

The thing is it starts at the top. Coach Pettine devices the game plan and makes sure he puts guys in position to make plays. I just think they work well together and being able to be simple in the scheme without being simplistic.

Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery

On injuries on the defensive line:

I thought about that the other day. Mo Wilkerson, Pro Bowl at one point in time. Mike D, Pro Bowler. Kenny (Clark) on track to be a Pro Bowler this year. I can say there’s been no drop-off whatsoever. Dean Lowry, Tyler Lancaster, Montravius Adams and Fadol Brown have bought in. When they’ve gotten their shot, they’ve taken advantage of it.

On Tyler Lancaster:

He’s always stout and big. Some people said he can only be a nose tackle, but he’s played some three-technique. He’s worked on the things you need to get better at. As the season went on, he got his opportunity and he took advantage of it.

On decision to come back to Green Bay:

We wanted to be here. That was important to us. For my family and myself. I don’t regret it one bit. I’m glad I had an opportunity to coach these guys and hope I can continue to. If not, I’ll have a room somewhere else.

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