GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and defensive assistant coaches met with the media over the past couple of days. Here's a summary of their key comments:
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On Darrius Shepherd:
Shep came in bigger and stronger, faster and more confident this year. I think that he's a very smart, smart young man and I think he uses that to his advantage on just his kind of route ability. He's a grinder, like you have to take him out. He will stay in. It doesn't matter if it's scout team, it doesn't matter if it's with Aaron Rodgers, Tim Boyle, Jordan Love, he's going to be in there as much as he possibly can. I mean, he truly loves the game and I think you see that in his play. He's going 100 miles an hour every opportunity that he has and I think that he's earned the right to be able to get out on that field.
On play-calling and the offense being in a flow:
It's like a merry-go-round. Around. Up and down. All positive energy. It's kind of like when we talk about each play we want to understand the 'why.' I think as the guys feel that and understand what we're trying to create and what we're trying to attack, I think that's kind of that flow that we're talking about, the ability to get positive plays and then be able to set something up or get to a different play and adjust at the same time and everybody's on the same page. I think that's when you're really in a true flow, when everybody knows probably the next play call before even the play has been sent in. That's the key.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
On the tackling:
I thought up until the Saints game we had tackled pretty well just from how we chart the number of misses. Given the circumstances I thought we had been solid. The number was up there against the Saints but I want to say half of 'em came on the one play. It's not a reason for complete concern, just knowing that 41 from New Orleans is going to make a lot of people miss. But definitely there were some good coaching points to it as far as making sure you take that extra step, making sure you're grabbing cloth and whatever it takes to get him on the ground and the angles that we're taking.
On Kingsley Keke's two sacks:
It was good to see it. This is a guy that's put the time in. He's worked. He's conscientious, it's important to him and it was nice to finally have it pay off. And I think his performance was just indicative of the rest of the defensive line. That was the best the D-line had played so far this year and without Kenny Clark. For Keke personally I just know that had to be a huge, just a shot of confidence. Now, of course, us as a coaching staff, we need to make sure he doesn't think that he's arrived, so we've been giving him a hard time all week, making sure he doesn't feel like he's made it because he sacked Drew Brees twice. But no, he's aware of it. I think he's anxious to get out there again and put another good performance on tape.
Special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga
On Oren Burks forcing a fumble on a kickoff in New Orleans:
It's kind of the way the ball bounces. Oren was getting doubled and had a really good play where he got off the double-team; obviously there was a hole there initially that was starting to close up. But he made a really good play getting off the double and then knocking that ball out. Some guys went for it. It just happened to be they had a guy a little bit closer and getting on it. But we're always trying to get those – No. 1, the first guy secure the tackle and the second guy come in there and knock that ball out, try to create turnovers off the coverage units.
On preparing the hands team without Davante Adams last week:
I think obviously we put those guys in certain spots for a reason, and not having Davante (Adams), we knew that was going to happen. So we moved Allen Lazard over there. All the guys we have on there I think we trust obviously and to make good decisions and to do their job and are good decision-makers and obviously have good hands if the ball comes to them. I think they handled it well.
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith
On Burks moving into his position room:
Yeah, it's actually gone well. He's a smart kid. He's played on the edge before in college, so it's a little bit still natural to him. Obviously he knows the system. It's clearly different when you're on the edge than inside, but it's been surprisingly good. He's picked things up quick. We need to continue to clean up and continue to work but I've been impressed this last week.
Not a lot of guys really knew that much about them at the beginning of (last) year. I wouldn't say we're getting chipped or thumped as much – thumped is what we call it when a tight end chips us – I think it's just more of the ball getting out quick. That's things we've kind of dealt with. We still gotta rush better, I don't think we're rushing where we need to rush right now.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On Ty Summers taking over and wearing the green dot:
Our communication stayed at a really high level. One of the hardest jobs in the NFL is to be a backup signal-caller. Obviously he does get practice reps and all that but it's just different. And he just jumped in there and did a nice job communicating with the entire defense. You know Ty's always going to play hard, he's going to fly around.
On Summers, and others, being hard on themselves about their performance:
The nice thing about Ty and really the entire room is, they care so much that they're going to look and they could have six really good plays but they're going to remember the two bad ones. 'Oh, what could I have done here. It was a 2-yard gain, could I have had it for a 0-yard gain?' Or 'I could have been in a window here to help out a corner.' Those kinds of things. Having the ability to be able to see that and work at it, it just helps you get better. He does, he's very self-critical, as is the entire room, but never negative, and it's never a negative self-talk type of thing.
Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray
On the possible matchup of the smaller Jaire Alexander on the bigger Julio Jones:
You have to learn to compete. I watched Darrell Greene go up against Randy Moss, and we're talking about a 5-9, 5-10 guy going up against a 6-foot-4, and he has to come down with the ball sometime. You can't just catch the ball and hold it in the air. When you bring it down close to your body, that's when you get a chance to get it down if you're a smaller guy.
On all the missed tackles on Kamara's long TD:
Our job is to get him down. So if you get a guy in space, the biggest thing you have to do is keep closing and what I tell them, don't ever dive off the high diving board. That means don't ever leave your feet. So if you're in space, just keep inching and buy time so somebody else can get there. That's what running backs and receivers don't want you to do is buy a little time so your buddies can come… He caused them, he's a really good back. But that was something that I thought we did, we didn't run through tackles like we normally do.
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery
On Keke's two sacks:
I just think it comes with time. You go back to a guy like Kenny. Kenny's first year, the reps were down, he was learning the system. Same thing with Keke. He's still growing and developing today. One thing we talk to him about all the time is building on that, stacking those bricks, putting back-to-back days together, putting back-to-back games together. He's growing up before everybody's eyes.
More on Keke's playing time:
The game is different at this level. You can get away with being bigger, more athletic and physical than people in college. But once you get here, everybody is like that. So, with more reps, comes more confidence. You've got to go through some ups and downs and you have to be able to take criticism to learn from your mistakes and still have confidence.