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'No bigger game to prove it' for Packers' defense

Coordinators and defensive assistant coaches discussed the upcoming Rams game


GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and defensive assistant coaches met with the media on Wednesday.

Here's a summary of their key comments.

Special teams coordinator Ron Zook

On the Rams' big plays on special teams:

"Very well-rounded team obviously. They're playing on all cylinders. Their starting linebackers have blocked three punts. That's a feat for a year and they've done it three times. You look at their reel of deceptive plays, it takes about 45 minutes to get through it. They're going to keep you on your toes."

On Montgomery's long returns that have been called back carrying over:

"I hope so. It's something we work hard on. Our guys, they know what we're trying to get accomplished, but once again, we can't have the penalties. Particularly foolish penalties. Those are the ones we have to get corrected. I tell them, guys, we're so close. It just takes a little bit more to get over the top."

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin

On the offense getting healthier after the bye:

"We're obviously entering a critical stretch of the season, not only the opponents we're playing, the quality of opponents, but it's getting close to November. There are only 16 of them, and they start getting magnified, their significance even more. Obviously it's important we play in midseason form, because that's about where we're at. We've done a number of really, really good things, but we need some more consistency."

On getting the running game going:

"It's helpful when early on you feel that surge, you feel your offensive line, tight ends, blocking backs are controlling the line of scrimmage. Sometimes you can get a sense or feel for that early in the ballgame. We'd like to do that against these guys."

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine

On figuring out the slow starts over the bye:

"I think we have a better handle on it. You go back through your negative plays and try to pinpoint the reason. Was it scheme, or personnel or technique issue … some of it you can't put your finger on as far as the slow start part. But it's something we talk about every day."

On all the misdirection and deception from the Rams:

"You have to build your scheme so they can quiet or eliminate some of that noise. A lot of stuff pre-snap is a distraction, and you make sure everybody has a job on each play depending on what we're running. If you want to play great defense, you have to play with great eyes, and some of the hiccups we've had early in the season have been because of lack of eye discipline."

On this matchup:

"We've stressed it since the spring, and there'll be no bigger game to prove it than this one. It's not what we play, it's how we're playing it. The scheme is important, but this one here, you can't get overly complicated on defense because of what they do. You just have to go out and play."

Defensive pass-game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr.

On Shields' return:

"Sam and I had a number of conversations about that. First off, I don't think people realized how good Sam was and what he did for us. Once he got to a point he felt he could play again, and he assured me he could play again, we talked about it. He said Joe, I can play. And I said if you feel you can play, go do it. You know your body. I couldn't be more happy for him."

On Breeland:

"He's a veteran player who's played a lot of games in this league. He understands coverages, the speed of the game and what it takes to win. He helps the younger guys understand what it means to be a pro. He's been a good addition."

Secondary coach Jason Simmons

On Cooper Kupp:

"Anyone questionable or doubtful, we prepare for them as if they're going to play. He's a playmaker. Look at his amount of touchdowns, his average yards per catch. He came in doing it as a rookie last year."

On giving up too many big plays:

"We have. The thing is just to secure deep zones. It's understanding we need to make the plays that come to us. You can see guys, when we make a mistake, the guys don't make the same mistake twice. The main thing is we have to start faster. I don't want it to get lost the things that we've done well, but the big plays, we have to limit them."

Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery

On Clark's workload:

"We're going to roll some of these other guys a little bit more, but Kenny is a good player. He's playing at a very, very high level right now, and it's good to have him on the field."

"He doesn't press to make plays. He makes the plays that come to him. He can be in doubles, and he'll see the ball and be able to get off that double. When you turn on the tape, he's constantly getting off blocks, and he's put up a lot of production."

On stopping Gurley:

"We've got to do a good job of knocking the line of scrimmage back and getting off blocks. We have to play flat, keep guys off the next level, and get off blocks."

Defensive run-game coordinator/inside linebackers coach Patrick Graham

On Gurley:

"Relentless play style, the size and speed combination is pretty good. Good vision, able to set up his blocks, good patience in the hole. You add in catching the ball out of the backfield, there are a lot of tools there to have to deal with and try to defend. He's up there."

On defending play-action:

"What you have to do through film study is try to ID certain triggers, to tell the difference between the run and the pass off the action. You're trying to gain an advantage there. What not to do? Don't get caught in no man's land. You're not really helping anybody. That's the main thing you're trying to avoid. And if it is a run, don't play pass."