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Packers' defense: 'We have to take the ball away’

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GREEN BAY – The Packers’ coordinators and defensive assistant coaches spoke to the media on Thursday evening. Here are highlights from their news conferences.

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin

On Randall Cobb:

When he’s been available, he’s a big part of the offense. He has great versatility. He understands the game well. His play speed has been good when he’s been out there. We’ll see how things go the rest of the week, but he can bring a lot. … He’s not just good in the slot. He can play outside. He can play inside. He understands how to get open. It’s good to have him out there at practice today. He’s definitely a guy we’d love to have available, if possible.

On defenses having a cornerback travel with one receiver:

In our minds, we have a thought process of the probability of a corner following a specific player. We’re certainly going to be looking at that as a game unfolds. Is he going inside? Is he staying outside the whole time? Those are the things we look for, regularly.

On Jake Kumerow:

Really, it’s great having him back on the practice field. We’ll see what happens. He looks good. He’s moving well. He’s getting some repetitions. We’ll see what happens – No. 1, if he’s available, and No. 2, what he can do. He hasn’t practiced much.

On third-down offense:

We’re putting a major emphasis on third down, believe it or not. We sat down as a unit and watched a bunch of film from the other night. I wish we could put a finger on it. We look at those 10 plays, we had some opportunities. We just have to stay after it. We can’t get frustrated. Sometimes defense is going to have a good defense against a concept. We have to battle through it.

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine

On the Cardinals:

That’s the same every week. We don’t get wrapped up in the numbers. You can put together of Rosen has made some good throws and Fitzgerald is getting better with age. We’re certainly in no position to take anybody lightly. A lot of things where negative plays happen, sometimes it’s more of a result of us – a mental mistake on our part. Those are the things we have to get cleaned up.

On injuries on defense:

When you look at structure of practice nowadays, it’s hard to get the backups reps. We work those guys in here and there, but you might have a certain call or blitz that works a particular technique. If you have a couple guys not available in the second half, it likely will limit what you do unless you’re a defense, which weren’t not, that stays pretty basic.

On playing without Mike Daniels:

You have to affect the QB in multiple ways. Some teams can depend on just their four-man rush. Mike is certainly a big loss, but that’s life in the NFL. We adjusted without Muhammad and now we have to do it without Mike.

On outside linebacker without Nick Perry:

They’ve handled it well. We also have Crawford, who is a tweener. He can play inside or outside. We can also jump in with different groupings. We also have a grouping where we only have one of those guys on the field, where we take out a linebacker and put a defensive lineman in. All three of those guys are in good shape. They’ve done a good job handling the workload.

On takeaways:

We have to take the ball away. When you get in these close games, that’s the difference. The No. 1 statistic to determine a winner besides the score is turnovers. … We do have a rule in the room is catch the ones they throw to us. I think sometimes there’s a certain amount of luck involved. It gets tipped or the ball gets popped up in the air. It happens. I don’t want to say we’ve been unlikely but sometimes you have to create it yourself.

Special-teams coordinator Ron Zook

On the roster being banged up:

If we only have 42 healthy guys, I’m usually the last one. But that’s the NFL. Everyone is going through the same thing. I’ve said this before as well, in camp, you try to do as much as you can to prepare them for the season. But you also have a bunch of young guys who don’t know what a season is. That’s why you have a plan in what you’re doing and your system that’s hopefully going to show up now. You have some guys who are beat up and tired and having to play. I’ve shown them clips from camp to show why we did this. It’s not as bad as my first year in the NFL, but you have to put 11 guys out there.

On using Tramon Williams on punt returns:

I have confidence in Tramon. Coach will decide what the best direction is for us to go. Tramon has had two big returns, but he’s also put the ball on the ground twice. Tramon will be the first one to tell you that. He has a lot of his plate. We’ll see what Coach says. (37) Josh Jackson and (28) Tony Brown have also done it.

Defensive pass-game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr.

On Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald:

Larry is one of the best receivers of all-time. He’s in the top 10. He can run every route of the route tree. He has great body control to the catch. He’s extremely smart. He’s what NFL football is all about. He’s a great player.

On Kevin King’s upside when healthy:

I think Kevin, when he’s fully healthy, can be a really, really good player. He has the skill set. He can bend. He and Jaire together, I think can be a special combination – an Al/Wood type of combination. Now can they stay healthy like Al and Wood? We’ll see.

On safety Ibraheim Campbell:

I like IC. He’s a smart guy. He’s come in here and been in that meeting room and asking all the right questions. He can tackle out of the post, fill gaps. He’s accountable. He’s smart. He’s making all the calls back there. He makes people around him better. The more he plays, the more he’ll settle in and make other guys better.

On Jaire Alexander as a No. 1 cornerback who matches top receivers:

He has that mindset. He’ll continue to get opportunities to do that. Jaire has a chance to be as good as any corner in the league.

Secondary coach Jason Simmons

On Campbell transitioning into Green Bay’s defense:

He’s a solid player. He has experience playing in Pettine’s system prior. He’s a good communicator, strong tackler. We have so many young guys. He does have some experience. He’s learned a lot each place. HE brings a little bit that can help our room. The young guys see how serious he takes it because right now he sees Green Bay as a home.

On Tramon Williams playing safety:

Him being multiple, that’s having a veteran in the room and being completely unselfish. We appreciate what he’s doing.

Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery

On losing Mike Daniels:

Mike was having a good year, doing his job. The best thing about it is the next guys have just stepped in. We’re still pushing the pocket. We’re still getting after the quarterback from inside. We hate not having him, but it’s part of the game. It’s the next man in.

On Kenny Clark’s role without Daniels:

Kenny is doing all a defensive tackle can do. He’s playing first- and second-down runs. He’s playing really well. He’s a pro about his whole approach. The only thing he can do better is get a sack every third down, but the guy is playing out of his mind.

On Tyler Lancaster:

He’s sound in the run game. We felt like Minnesota wanted to run the game and he’s a guy who can stop the run. … He does it exactly how you want him to do it. He’s gotten better and better each time. Each week, there’s something new he’s improved on. I’m just excited about his growth.

On Montavious Adams:

He’s developing every single day. It’s been positive. I tell the guys we’re only as good as our weakest link. He had two TFLs in this last game, including one in short yardage. It’s just trust with him. Each week, he’s proving it out in practice and it’s showing up on the field.

Defensive run-game coordinator/inside linebackers Patrick Graham

On Antonio Morrison:

The first thing that’s most noticeable is in the classroom – studious, attentive and being able to ask the right questions. Just being able to see that, that’s the biggest thing that stands out is the leadership in the classroom. On the field, the intensity and passion he plays with. He loves to play football. He values the game.

On run defense:

Anytime you lose a good player is tough. We try to restrict the space in the run game, limit the effectiveness. We’ve had some good plays. Am I happy where we’re at? I want more wins. I want to win today, first. … Clay was all over the field last week. Kenny, there’s guys playing well, but we have to take care of business this week against Arizona.

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