GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and defensive assistant coaches met with the media on Thursday.
Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On Washington's defensive front:
Yeah it's almost like a broken record. You want to take a breath but in the NFL you can't take a breath because we'll have four first-rounders up there. With their scheme, they do a great job of creating one-on-ones. So, I think that's going to be one of the biggest challenges for our guys up front. They're going to have to block 'em one-on-one and we're going to have to hold up and get the ball out quick and still find our shots.
On Jon Runyan:
Even when he went in last year as a rookie, the great thing about him is it's not too big for him. Obviously growing up in a football family, he loves ball and he doesn't fear much. In this game, those players are so good they're going to get you a couple times. I think the good players understand that's going to happen. It's about you recalibrating, 'OK, what did I do wrong? Now if I just use my technique and fundamentals, I'll be able to get my job done because I know I can.' I think that's something Runyan has done a really good job at.
On all the adjustments the players make at the line of scrimmage:
That's what makes us grow as an offense. I always think that we give the foundation to them, and then they own the foundation after that, and that offense becomes them. They're the ones that are out there playing, so you want them to always feel like they're playing football. We're not handcuffing them or keeping them just to specific rules. That's when you can really see an offense start blossoming.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On Kenny Clark's strong play:
it's just really impressive to see because you know exactly what you're going to get every single day. Kenny's gotten to a pretty decent level as far as where he's at in the food chain as NFL players. I've witnessed guys when they get to that point, they kind of relax sometimes. They say, you know, hey, I'm at the top. That's the thing with Kenny Clark, it doesn't matter. He works. He works at his craft. He works at his pad level. He works at his hand placement. He studies film. Of course he's incredibly gifted, God-given talent, but what makes him special is his work ethic.
On backups stepping up:
We use the term, we have starters, and we have starters-in-waiting. I think everyone's kind of embraced that, and the coaches especially in the way they approach everything and the way they train their room. Because in this league, injuries are unfortunately part of our business.
Special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton
On the ups and downs with kickoff coverage:
I was talking with Rayna Stewart, our assistant, he said chess cannot be taught, it can only be learned. Kickoff is the same way. I can go in the classroom and I can teach you to stay in your lane, we take blocks this way, you read indicators so you know the direction of the return, but until you do it over and over again and you do it beside your buddies, because you know how he's going to play off of you, there'll be a learning curve. I see a progression of us getting better. The untrained eye may not see it, the stats column doesn't see it, but I see it. As long as I see it and those young men see it, we will be where we need to be when it truly, truly counts in November, December, January. So, I'm unfazed by it. Do I like it? No, not at all. Do we always want to be better and want more? Abso-freakin'-lutely.
On Amari Rodgers' 16-yard punt return:
In my opinion, it was his best return of the year. The way that he attacked the ball and the way that the return was supposed to go, his vision once he had the ball in his hand, the ball security, we just have to keep taking those baby steps with Amari. It's not to go unnoticed, those guys up front are doing a better job blocking. That's what we can't forget.
Defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray
On Rasul Douglas:
I thought he did a good job. He understands what he's supposed to do. He prepared. Guy's been in here a couple weeks and he's a professional. He's more of a calm guy. He doesn't talk a lot in meetings. He's not a big rah-rah guy. He's not flashy. But when he gets out on the football field, he just does his job.
On Henry Black filling in for Darnell Savage:
He had to go in and he hadn't been playing a bunch of safety. He had been playing some dime for us. I thought he did a good job of coming in and doing what he's supposed to do. We've got some young guys that are understanding what their roles are and they know that, hey look, I may not be the starter but there may be one play that puts me into the starting role. I thought Henry came in, made about five or six tackles, did a really good job in the passing game and the run game.
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery
On Dean Lowry:
I talk about him being the dirty work guy all the time. He's really starting to be a lot more aggressive and not catching blocks, being more physical, more direct. Big, strong guy like that, when he starts to do that, you recognize it. It shows up, and he's starting to put his stamp on his game right now. A lot of it has to do with knowing who you are. If I'm a big, strong guy … let's push the pocket and do some push-pulls. He's playing those abilities, which is awesome right now.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On Jaylon Smith:
He came in, is really working at it. There's a lot of stuff that he has to go through to be able to feel comfortable and I think he's done a really nice job at that. It's been what, basically two weeks now, and you're trying to get all the way through everything and I think he's eating the elephant one bite at a time.
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith
On Whitney Mercilus:
It's going good. The thing about him, 10 years in the league, this is not his first rodeo. The fronts I show him, he's done some scheme like that. He's been part of a 3-4, so that's the easy part about it. Same thing with techniques. He knows what he's doing. He knows how to rush. He's a technician. The guy knows how to line up and go.
On Jonathan Garvin's sack in Chicago:
I tell my guys – sacks very rarely do you flat out beat a guy, it's your second and third efforts that you're going to get there. That's why you've got to be relentless. Jonathan did a great job. When Preston (Smith) went down when he did, that left us with three in the game. Makes it quite a challenge because guys get tired. And the way (Rashan Gary) plays, he gets tired pretty dang quick because of how relentless he is. Jonathan is a guy that knows who he is, there's nothing pretty about him. We call him "Throwback." He does a great job understanding his power, setting guys up, getting them to lean, good on the edge. He's smart. He does all the drops (into coverage), too. The guy's 275 pounds and he's had one MA (missed assignment) the entire year. I'm glad the kid's in my room. I feel comfortable when he's out there, as a coach, and that's a big part of it. He's just going to get better over time.