Jonathan Garvin has 'whole notebook' full thanks to Smiths

Packers’ rookie pass rusher is learning from the best

LB Jonathan Garvin

GREEN BAY – Jonathan Garvin is a classic roster bubble player.

The Packers' rookie outside linebacker is a seventh-round draft pick with two double-digit sack stars (Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith) and a first-rounder from a year ago (Rashan Gary) in front of him.

He's also competing with a fourth-year veteran (Tim Williams) and a practice-squad holdover (Randy Ramsey) who both got familiar with Green Bay and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's system in 2019.

But Garvin, an early entry in the 2020 draft, just turned 21 a month ago and has that proverbial unknown ceiling at a position that can take some time for players to hit their stride. Just ask those three guys at the top of the depth chart.

So figuring out what's in store for Garvin when the final roster and practice-squad decisions are made at the end of this week is anyone's guess. Right from the get-go, though, Garvin appreciates how the Smiths have embraced the entire position group, which also includes undrafted rookie Tipa Galeai, regardless of roster status.

"I meet 'em on Zoom and the first thing is, 'Relax, put your shoulders back, have a good time, good to meet you guys,'" Garvin said of the Smiths.

"They introduced themselves and I mean, from Day 1, (they've been) teaching, helping us out and everything."

A pass rusher who racked up 10½ sacks over his final two collegiate seasons at Miami, Garvin doesn't know where to start in discussing what he's learned from the Smiths, saying he's "filled out pretty much a whole notebook" of tips and advice.

He's put it all to good use, flashing some burst and power off the edge in 11-on-11 work during training camp in his bid to make the team. An impact player on special teams early in his college career, he's been trying to show what he's got in that phase as well.

When it comes to getting after quarterbacks, Garvin found out in a hurry how technically sound pass rushers have to be in the pros. Beating the opponent cleanly is the only way to win, not just hoping the other guy makes a mistake.

"The one thing you can't do is you can't half-do a move," he said. "You have to do it correctly. If you don't do the move correctly it's not going to work. These are elite guys that are up here in the NFL."

Garvin wants to get there someday, and he has a passionate position coach in Mike Smith who's going to push him. Garvin first met Coach Smith at the scouting combine, roughly two months before the Packers used the last of their nine draft picks to select him, at No. 242 overall.

Where he stands after his first, abbreviated and preseason-less, NFL training camp will soon be known. He might be in for some solitary moments waiting for word on cut-down Saturday, but he's enjoyed never feeling alone thus far in making the transition to the pro level.

The three Smiths in particular have been responsible for that.

"There's a saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child,' and that's what it feels like being in the outside 'backer room," Garvin said. "Not just that but in the defense and this team in general. Everybody is helping you in every aspect of the game."

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