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Motto on Packers' O-line: 'We block to infinity'

Key comments from the Packers’ coordinators and assistant coaches

Packers offensive line coach Luke Butkus
Packers offensive line coach Luke Butkus

GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and assistant coaches met with the media over the past week. Here's a sampling of their key comments:

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry

(on what will decide the starting safety competition)

I'm big on consistency. I've bragged over the years, a guy like Kenny Clark not only is he consistent with his play. He's consistent with everything he does every single day when he's in this building. I think when you have a vacancy, especially with a starting spot and you have a number of guys that are in competition for that, I think the biggest thing that I look for as a coach when you're deciding that is just the overall consistency every single day. And obviously then you've got to get into doing your job and making plays and being productive, but it starts with just being a consistent guy every single day to be one of those starting 11.

(on first-round pick Lukas Van Ness and playing right away)

We expect and I think he has the ability to be able to obviously do something in the immediate future. Lukas, and really any rookie, when you get them here in May, they're a ball of clay that you just kind of want to mold into our system and do what we do with them. But he is a big man that's explosive. So I think that's always a great place to start. When you've got a guy that has length, that has explosion, that has power, that has the versatility as I mentioned, those are the things I'm excited about.

(on what was studied during the offseason)

Most of the time those games come down to four or five, maybe six or seven plays, and if the result of those handful of plays are different, that's the difference between winning or losing a football game. A lot of times those go into situational football. It goes into third down. It goes into red zone. It goes into two-minute. And then probably the other thing is the explosion play, whether it's getting the ball thrown over your head or getting run through. A lot of times that goes with missed tackles. Those are probably all the things year in and year out that we as coaches spend the bulk of our time in, situational football and tackling. If you clean those things up, you've got a chance.

Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich

(on the QB transition to Jordan Love)

Obviously he doesn't have the playing experience that Aaron had, but from a playbook standpoint, I think pretty much all of it's on the table. He's been around for three years and has really attacked it. Even last year, you could see him come into his own, felt a lot more comfortable, so this year he's really hitting it on all cylinders so I'm really excited to see what he's going to bring.

Guys have to believe, they have to have faith in their quarterback, and basically what he's done over the last three years is just handle himself the right way in all the situations. He's been a pro, he's been prepared whenever his number is called, he's been ready. So I think that's the biggest thing that people have seen, and then now that he's taken this leadership role on, he'll just run with it.

(on how much blitzing opponents will do against a young QB)

Typically, if you handle pressure well, you don't see it as much. So it's going to be one thing we're going to emphasize in the offseason – blitz periods, where we can get pressure on us and know how to pick things up, know how to handle stuff. The good news is we have a lot of experience on the offensive line, our backs are very experienced, so I'm pretty confident that we'll be able to handle things like that, the pressure.

(on Zach Tom possibly earning a starting spot up front)

We've got a lot of competition on the right side, whether it's right guard, right tackle or even center. So we're just gonna go out there and put these guys in different spots. I know right now, Zach's gonna compete a lot at right guard and right tackle and possibly some at center, just kind of see how that goes. Getting those best five out there that gel the best and are the most physical, that's what I'm looking for.

(on the outlook with so much youth on the perimeter being exciting because there's so much potential, or daunting because there's so much work to do)

It's both. 100%, because you can see the talent, you can see all that. And I'm very excited about all those guys and we just gotta work with 'em. We gotta keep working with 'em, mold 'em into what roles we think they can fit for us, see what they do well and then just use that to make them shine and make them play their best, so yeah, we just got a lot of work ahead of us, but I'm really excited about it.

(on whether the offense will look different without Rodgers running it)

It might. Yeah, it might. And it's not just because of not having Aaron Rodgers. It might just be these other pieces that we've added as well. So, again, it's OTAs right now so we're just going to kind of see how it all fits and once we figure out kind of how we're going to attack defenses, then we'll roll from there.

Assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia

(on the possible growing pains with a new kicker)

I think with all players in the National Football League, they're going to ride the rollercoaster at times, regardless of the position. It just happens that the kicker is out there by himself, and they're usually put in critical situations where you're counting on them to come through. If Anders can perform like we think he can and can improve, I think we're prepared organizationally as well as with a majority of the other draft picks to weather the storm to some degree positionally, and hopefully they can keep improving and get better with time. I think that's how we're going to approach the majority of our class and I'd like to think we do that with the majority of young players that we have.

(on whether anything changes with the assistant head coach title)

I'm appreciative of the title. Coach LaFleur and I have had great conversations. We did as the year went on last year, we did this offseason before the break, and we have a little bit again toward scheduling, what practice looks like. I've been real fortunate since I've been here to have great conversations with Brian about personnel, whether it be free agency or our thoughts on the draft, along with Coach LaFleur. Again, I'm appreciative of the title. I'm just trying to be a sounding board when Coach LaFleur wants to visit.

(on getting so many veteran special-teamers back)

I think anytime you can keep your core together, as long as they can still perform at a high level, is good for our team. I think again credit to Brian and Coach LaFleur and them putting their heads together and getting our guys back. As the year went on, I thought we got a little bit better. We started to perform a little bit better. Obviously, the addition of putting Keisean back there, and the blocks seemed to get a little bit better when he went back there, as well. We're excited about that group coming back, but again they know they've got a task at hand to keep their job. They're fully aware of the competitive situations that they're in.

(on being in a good spot despite not getting a head coaching opportunity yet)

This is my 40th year of coaching, and I've always taken great pride at being the best assistant I can possibly be. I kind of live in this microscope/telescope kind of world where 98 percent of my day is in the microscope, it's the task at hand, and then maybe there's 2 percent somewhere during the course of the day you think about where you're going and maybe what's next. I don't spend much time in it. I rarely look in the rearview mirror. I'm really just trying to concentrate on the task at hand: what my job is now, how can I get a little bit better as a coach, how can we get our players a little bit better, put them in position where they can be successful individually, and then we can be successful collectively. I think the No. 1 job for an assistant coach is come to work every day and honor the hopes and dreams of our players. I think that's our job. Again, I'm appreciative of the job that I have. I'm appreciative of the conversations I can have with Coach LaFleur, no different than I have with Joe Barry or Steno or Butkus or Jerry Mo or JD and on and on. I'm so fortunate to have Byron Storer and now Kyle Wilber, both guys have played for me, they've been in this system, they can talk to the players about me, they can talk to the players what it is to go through the practice the way in which we want to go through practices. I appreciate the question but I really don't think much about what I don't have; I think a lot more about what I do have and the direction that we're going collectively.

(on figuring out how the rookies can help)

We're teaching another language basically. We're teaching them about how the field is divided, we're teaching about our system of football, what we call things in punt return, what we call them in punt, and then trying to find the right position for all these guys, where they fit in. They might play two different, three different roles before we actually know where to put them on all the different units. It's a good group and I think we're excited about the transition of getting them to be a part of our we-fense philosophy.

Pass rush specialist Jason Rebrovich

(on whether Lukas Van Ness' role here will be similar to his at Iowa)

It's really early to know. We're trying to evaluate the player first and then see what he does within the scheme that we have currently in. So there's going to be some different things that we might do with the young man, but as of right now we're starting him as an outside linebacker and moving forward from there.

(on learning to pass rush at the NFL level)

It takes time to establish and be a pass rusher in this league. As you guys have seen in college right now, there's less and less passes. It's a lot more quarterback movement. It's just different and when that happens, their progression to come to this league it takes time to understand how I set up a tackle, how do I go through a pass rush in my progression. So there is a learning curve.

(on Justin Hollins' impact late last season)

First and foremost, he's an unbelievable man. You talk about a guy that came in here in week whatever it was in the middle of the season, there's so much unknown. He don't know me, I don't know him. He don't know the group, they don't know him. As you guys all know, those rooms are a brotherhood. It's hard to walk into a room, and that man has established as one of the leaders of that group. He comes to work every single day with a smile on his face and ready to work and asks questions, he talks to the young men in that group. He's had a lot of experience at the places he's been, he knows the National Football League, so he brings a lot of attributes to our room.

Defensive line/running game coordinator Jerry Montgomery

(on T.J. Slaton and Devonte Wyatt taking over for Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed)

The expectation is for the room. Whoever those guys are that are in those roles need to step up. You lose two starters, you gotta replace them. Those guys that left were really good players. I had high expectations for T.J. last year and I don't think he played to those consistently, but he showed flashes. My expectations for him is to be the best version of himself every single day. That's what we gotta get out of him. Devonte, Year 1 to Year 2, I expect a massive jump for him. He knows the defense much better. It allowed him to play free and fast instead of worrying about where you go and those things. As you get older in this league, especially being in the same system, the better you know it, the faster you can play.

(on Kenny Clark)

I'll tell you what, Kenny is one of the greatest leaders. It may not always be vocally but the guy is a pro. The guy shows up day-in, day-out. He knows the same defense that we've been in and he still brings a notepad in there and he takes notes on every call we get. There's no better guy to learn from than him. I express that to our room all the time. Like guys, 'Look at our walkthrough, this guy's going through a walkthrough and he's immaculate fundamentally.' I go, 'Learn from him. Watch how he goes about his business. There's a reason he's one of the best guys in the league at what he does.' So, it's great to have that and he's actually being a lot more vocal right now, especially in our room. The communication he's having with the guys. He's pulling guys to the side as I'm coaching other guys up. He's earned that respect. He has the room. When he wants to speak, he has it.

(on Karl Brooks at Bowling Green)

He did it all. He stood up on the edge, he played a 5-technique, he played a 3-technique, he played a nose. The guy was a 300-pound guy that stood up, so it just goes to show you how athletic he is. He played all across the front, so he played in read-and-react stances, attack-and-react stances. The kid's a football player, and the faster he learns it, the faster we're going to be able to get him on the field.

(on what it takes for players to switch from rushing outside to inside)

I think the biggest thing is most outside rushers have the ability to bend, (use) speed and get off the edge. But the guys that have to come inside, you can't always just win with speed inside. You've got to have some type of power element, and that's something that (Za'Darius Smith) had, and this is something that Van Ness has. He has the power, just like Rashan does, when he gets healthy, to be able to go in there and be an effective rusher.

Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti

(on Quay Walker's rookie season and moving ahead to Year 2)

Up and down, I think. I think he would agree with that. I think there was a consistent growth throughout. It wasn't like he would learn something and then unlearn it. I don't think that was the case. That's very encouraging. The biggest thing is how all his skills are going to fit into this defense because it's a new team picture every year.

(on last year's ejections)

Those conversations are ongoing and he's more than willing to learn from all his mistakes, especially those. Obviously, you can't have that, and he understands that.

(on De'Vondre Campbell's up and down season)

He had a career year two years ago. Then we had the injury in the middle of the season. When he came back, I think, you saw a difference. We obviously started to play pretty well as a group. Every year's going to be a little bit different. I do think that moving forward he's in a pretty good spot right now, which is encouraging. He's excited and ready to go this year.

Defensive passing game coordinator Greg Williams

(on his impressions of the DB group)

This group is a talented group. Obviously Jaire Alexander, I think he's one of the top players at his position in this game, really excited to work with him. He's a fierce competitor and I think that's a part of the position that he plays that you have to have and he does have that, and I'm excited to work with him and help him accelerate his game to possibly another level. This group as a whole, you see kind of how they competed and what they did over the last few years and I'm excited. I think this group has a chance to continue to climb and continue to get better and the camaraderie and being together now for a few years obviously helps.

(on the safety competition and when it should be decided)

What is it, Sept. … when do we go to Soldier Field? Better have it by then, right? Yeah. The thing about it is all the guys are capable. That's what makes the competition so good is everyone in that room is capable. With that being said, you can come down to the wire, you can come down to whatever week, and that's for Joe Barry and for Matt to make that call when we want to make that call. That's what makes it such a great competition is the fact that they're all capable.

(on what Rasul Douglas has done since working with him for a short time on Arizona's practice squad)

Very proud of Rasul. The one thing I did know about Rasul: Rasul is a very intelligent football player. To watch him put it all together, it was gratifying, because he had bounced around for a while, and to see him finally find a home and getting in a defensive scheme that kind of fit his play style, which is using his eyes, using his vision and his instincts. I think he maximized it and he's in a very good position.

Defensive backs coach Ryan Downard

(on newcomer Jonathan Owens)

Well, it's been about 24 hours. I did watch him in the offseason; we usually take a look at the free agents. He's very eager, he obviously has some skill. I think looking back at my report once we signed him, I think he played like 960 snaps last year. It was really his first year getting a ton of snaps, which we discussed. He's had a long journey. But he's a good football mind who's been in the league for at least some years and his best attribute, at least off of tape and in the past, was his ability to tackle. That was the thing that I had him graded out the highest. So, I'll know more as I get more time with him.

(on another free-agent safety, Tarvarius Moore)

Very similar. Veteran mind, good presence in the room. Again, willing and eager. I've always said, our organization brings in good people. I haven't dealt with a guy that's a bad guy. He has some coverage skill and he does have some power on contact, too, which I saw when I viewed him as a free agent. Athletically when he came out he was top-notch, he had some top-end speed. I know he's dealt with some injuries in the past, but he's been in some good schemes, he knows how to play hard, I think he understands what the standard needs to be, but he adds a good element to our room, especially since we're in this phase right now where there is some youth and there is some competition.

(on how Darnell Savage bounced back late last season)

I think anytime you face adversity, I think that does that to you. It either breaks you or makes you stronger, right? I was proud of the way he handled it. I was proud of the way he took the special-teams assignments that he had and I was proud of the way he fought and clawed his way back. And you can see on the tape, although it wasn't perfect, he was making efforts to get better in some of those techniques that we pointed out to him. Playing a more physical brand, addressing blocks the right way. That's something that he can do, we've just got to (show) consistency, right? Every play.

(on Rudy Ford)

He's got real speed, OK? I saw that on the field, I saw that in practice, he's got the ability to tackle and track ballcarriers, which is a premium. Last year was tough on Rudy because he came in so late. And, that's part of the NFL, so we got him up to speed as fast as we could, but I can't wait to see his progression now that he has a full offseason. He's been here every single day, he comes and seeks me out to meet extra, and so we've been watching film, and just to get him to learn and really nail down the details of each technique. So I think he's going to be way ahead of where he was last year. I talk to him (about), 'Hey, you know the calls now, command the back end.' That's what we expect from our safeties, and he's done a good job. He's raised his voice, not only on the practice field but in the meeting rooms in terms of, 'Hey, let's make the calls here.'

Wide receivers/passing game coordinator Jason Vrable

(on Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs taking over as leaders)

In the meeting room, it's been awesome lately. Seeing their growth last year to this year, it's night and day, and they've been through the ups and downs. They had to play early. Some buildings, you draft a guy maybe in the second round, there might be three vets, four vets in front of them. They might only get to play like 10 plays a game, maybe not at all. But they've been through the fire. I think they've learned from it. They've adapted. They're competitive and they've bought into the tradition of the room. You could see it throughout the year, their growth. They've been doing a great job with the young guys in the room. It's Year 2 but a whole year in the system, they know like the back of their hand now.

(on the communication with Jordan Love)

When he's talking, there's usually a difference in Jordan talking and somebody else. They usually perk up and take notes on it. If Jordan says a note in the meeting of what he wants it to look like, everybody turns around is like, 'All right, got it.' So I think Jordan commands that and knows what he wants in our system.

(on Jayden Reed)

I've had just about every coach come up to me, on our staff, and be like, 'Holy wow. That guy is twitchy, fast and explosive.' He has all those traits. You could see it on the college tape. Toss him a ball and he's gonna go make a play. But probably the more impressive thing is just his mentality. I told him the other day, I said, 'You remind me of Randall (Cobb). You really do. You're laser-focused. Your love for football. The other day, I was just thrilled for him. I said, 'You really love ball, don't you?' He's like, 'This is everything, Coach.' There's something about guys who end up being successful that have that inner drive. When he walks into the building, his eyes are like all ball.

(on Samori Toure)

If you guys would see Samori right now, you wouldn't even recognize the guy from last year, his growth. He's probably the one that everybody around the building is like, 83 looks unbelievable right now. He's put on like 8-10 pounds, he's worked his butt off, and he's just grown into his own so you feel comfortable in your own skin, and you play fast and you play with confidence. That's all you really want.

Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements

(on what gives Jordan Love a chance to have success)

He can throw the ball, No. 1, which you need to do in the NFL. He's athletic, he can move around, buy time, and he's intelligent and he generally makes good decisions. And he at this point just needs to play and work on processing information, making quick decisions, then getting it to the right guy. But he has all the qualities that you're looking for in a guy to be successful.

(on dealing with more blitzes)

We'll probably see more. But with our protections we try to handle the pressures, and usually if they want to make you throw it, they make (themselves) vulnerable in the secondary, and we just work on recognizing what the pressures are and who's the guy to get it to if it has to come out quick. And that goes to what I was saying, you have to be able see things, process it and make a quick decision. So, when things are flying around and guys are blitzing, that's when it becomes most important.

(on building up a young QB's confidence)

As a quarterback you have to learn from your mistakes, try not to repeat them, but then you've got to play the game without a conscience.

Offensive line coach Luke Butkus

(on how David Bakhtiari's doing)

I can't speak for him. We had this conversation about knowing your own body. Everybody's different. But he's in a good place. I feel confident coming up here and saying he's in a good place physically and mentally. He's sharp. This is Year 5 in the system for him, so he knows what to do – he's always known what to do. To get him a full, healthy, … I think it's going to be great for all of us.

(on how things change up front with Love vs. Rodgers)

It's Jordan's time. These guys have a great relationship with Jordan. They're all kind of the same age, they've come in together, they've grown together, they're going to rally around Jordan and protect him like it was anybody else back there.

We have a little motto in the O-line room. We block to infinity. If it's No. 10 back there, No. 12, No. 8, it doesn't matter. We're going to still block to infinity. That's our job to protect that quarterback, to help our runners. That's what we strive for and that's what we're going to build on every day.

(on Elgton Jenkins settling back in at LG)

He was continuing to get better every week toward the end of the season when he was playing left guard for us. He was looking like Elgton Jenkins. He's taken a lot of reps at left guard for us. He's taken reps at center and tackle, as well, but none more than left guard.

Tight ends coach John Dunn

(on how different the room is this year)

Obviously, there's quite a bit of new faces in there. So definitely a different feel to it. A little younger. But with that comes good responsibility and opportunity for those guys, so definitely different. I think Josiah (Deguara) has done a great job of taking on the leadership role in there and trying to help these young guys. We're early in this stage, but it's been good so far.

(on bringing the rookies along quickly)

There's no substitute for doing. We can teach them, they're in the classroom, they do a great job learning, they're smart guys, but what we're going through now and what we'll go through in training camp is the ultimate teacher. They have to get out there and they have to do it. They have to do it under pressure. They have to do it full speed. There's going to be mistakes, right? A lot of learning is through failure, so there's no substitute for that. I wish there was a magic, 'Hey this will get you there faster.' But the greatest part about sport is it really is a process. There's a mental process to it. We talk about all the time, you've got to know what to do, and that's the phase that we're in. This is a brand new offense, brand new language, brand new terminology.

(on Tyler Davis)

He's been in the offense now for a couple years and he understands what we're trying to do, and he's great for the young guys. I don't ever want to set a ceiling on any player and Tyler has a great skill set, too, and he's coming into his own, right? He's a young player and I know he's done – not to speak for Rich with special teams – but I know he did a great job there. The greatest part about Tyler, whatever role you give him he owns that role, and wherever that takes him, wherever that takes us, you don't ever know. So again, this time of year, especially for how young we are, we don't want to put a guy in a box and say you do this, you do this. This is the time of year where, let's go see what you can do and the more they can do, the more we can use 'em the more we can do and it opens up our offense.

Running backs coach Ben Sirmans

(on AJ Dillon last year)

There was a point where last year I thought he could have been playing at a more aggressive level, and we talked about it, watched the tape, he saw what I was referring to and then he applied what we talked about to moving on and understanding that it's got to be like that right from the start. We know the things that you like that you did last year and when you played this way, you were very effective. But when you played this way, you weren't. So we need to start off this way. It'll be more of an emphasis on how we need to start.

That wasn't the type of year and expectations that not only he had for himself but what I had for him and what others in this building had for him. I think that he's the type of person, at least from what he's shown me, that he's going to respond to that challenge, and come out and have a much more productive year. You saw a lot of great things in spurts, but that was just the problem. It was just in spurts. It wasn't consistent, and that's what our goal is.

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