GREEN BAY – The Packers' three coordinators plus the defensive assistant coaches met with the media on Wednesday.
Here's a summary of their key comments:
Special teams coordinator Ron Zook
On the long-snapper competition:
"We chart everything. We'll give that to Coach and to Brian and they'll make a decision. There's an awful lot of kicks missed in college because of the snap. Zach has been very, very consistent on the short snap, which is big to me, but that'll be Coach's and Brian's decision."
On the return game:
"I'm excited about where our blockers are. If you look at kickoff return, it doesn't look like you want it to look. If you study them, most of the time they're not clean, but I think we're very close."
On using Alexander on punt returns:
"He's healthy and ready to go. We'll see what he can do back there. He had some good returns in college. He's got the speed. It's a lot different catching the 5-second hang balls as opposed to the 4.2, 4.3 balls, but that's why you have preseason."
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
On the potential of the defensive line:
"We've flashed it. It hasn't been consistent enough. I think that's what camp is for. It's trending the right direction. It's been difficult without Mike Daniels in there. We're hoping as we push toward the opener we'll get some quality reps together."
On the different combinations in the secondary:
"I like to mix and match and see who works well together. The communication part is so important, plus we have the added element of cross-training. Guys who show they can handle it, we'll start to train them (at different spots). All those things allow you to mix and match and put your best group out there."
"He's smart, he's tough, he's coachable. He's done a nice job for us. I was impressed with the limited reps he got at the end of last year. He jumped off the tape at that point. He's been ultra-consistent since the spring. He doesn't say much. I think he's got a budget for words for the year. He comes in, works his tail off, asks the right questions. He's not a repeat offender, meaning he doesn't make the same mistake multiple times. You'd love to have more guys like that."
On the scheme:
"In the infant stages of our defense here, we'll probably keep the plans pretty tight early on and see how we can grow from there. As we go through camp, we're finding out what parts of the package we do well, and what parts we don't do so well."
Defensive pass-game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr.
On where Josh Jones fits with the safeties:
"We have a lot of multi-position players. Josh Jones, Quinten, Whitehead, Josh Jackson, Tramon, you'll see those guys play a number of different positions. Josh, we're finding a home for him. We have to find a great place for him to use his skill set."
On Kevin King:
"Mentally, he's there. He's been outstanding in the classroom. Physically, you want him out there. When he's been out there, he's what I thought he would be. He just hasn't been out there enough. He has a chance to be a game-changing type player."
On Josh Jackson not using his hands so much:
"That's one thing we've worked on. He did a lot of that at Iowa, grabbing. He doesn't need to grab. He has good technique when he uses it. He was grabbing when he wasn't in trouble, and he's done a nice job of working through that. I think his press technique has really improved. Now, he has to take it to the next level. As Pettine would say, we need to get to the graduate level in this defense."
Secondary coach Jason Simmons
On the missed tackles:
"What tackling has been and always will be is about approach. We're working on improving our approach. We have tough guys in the room, we don't question that. We want to work on the approach, the wrap, and then we'll get the finish together."
On the calmness on defense:
"Coach Pettine has a confidence about him. The players see that. It resonates through our staff, through preparation. That trickles down to our players and they feel confident."
"When he'll be medically cleared, I don't know, but what I do know, he is uber-talented, when he is ready to go, he's going to be one of the major calls for us on defense. He's going to be a guy that instantly helps us. I look forward to him getting back healthy and helping us win."
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery
"He had a great offseason, put a lot of time in, came back in great shape. Had a good camp. There's good days, there's bad days, and for the most part he's been on the positive side of that. He does look a little different. He looks right."
"As young as he is, he's very young, but he's an old soul. He's a pro. He studies, he does the little things, and he works. He's heading in the right direction, but still, there's room to grow each day."
Defensive run-game coordinator/inside LB coach Patrick Graham
On getting Burks ready for the opener:
"We're going to try to get everything out of the remaining days before that. 'OB' has been working extremely hard. One of the more diligent rookies I've ever been around. I told him here's the goal: Get better every day. If you get better every day, we'll see the improvement and growth."
On Ahmad Thomas:
"Attentive, diligent, working hard, willing to put in extra time when it's permissible. On the field, competitive. Competes in all the drills. The thing that stick out to me the most is the willingness to put in the work, to try to put his eyes in the right place, as he works these techniques that might be somewhat new to him."
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin
On the backup QB competition:
"It's really tight. They've had production, made good decisions, led the team on scoring drives. They've all shown some really, really good things. It's tight, which is good. It's not like there's been a huge separation, and it's because they've performed well."
On the tight ends:
"The depth we have right now seems rare. Robert (Tonyan) seems to be a guy that's getting better every day. He creates opportunities for himself. He's starting to develop into a guy who might have some position flex on and off the ball. They've all flashed some good things. It's a good group, a good room."
On the receiver competition beyond the top three:
"I think it's still real wide open. That's why these games have such significance. Every day is really important for those young guys to separate. Obviously there's going to be mistakes, and you don't want to say it too loud, but that's part of the process."