GREEN BAY – Over the past couple of days, the Packers' coordinators and defensive assistant coaches spoke to the media. Here's a sampling of their key comments:
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On facing new schemes in the opener:
There are those unscouted looks. I know that's kind of a cliché thing that everybody talks about but that's always the most unique thing about Week 1. Anybody you go against, you never know what's going to be thrown at you. In the end, when you look at the players, they have to trust your training, trust the system because there's always going to be something that you haven't seen and sometimes it's a lot more in this game. It's definitely going to be a challenge.
On maintaining success in the red zone:
Everybody's a threat down there. It's not just one guy. You have Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, Robert Tonyan, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Marcedes Lewis, AJ Dillon, so many people scored touchdowns down there. I think the mindset is there's things we could've gotten better at last year, we could've done better, we weren't perfect. This game isn't perfect. I think it's just about continuing to improve and pushing yourself, even though you're successful down there, it's hard to keep getting better and to push yourself.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On the unit's talent as a whole:
There's going to be a guy that none of us have talked about or none of you guys have written about that's going to burst onto the scene. To me, that's the things that's kind of cool, just to experience and be a part of, just to see who that person's going to be. We've got a great group of guys. I'm really, really looking forward to this, because it's going to be a lot of fun. It's gonna be challenging, it's gonna be a grind, it's gonna be hard, no doubt about it, every NFL football season is. But it's going to be a lot of fun to go do it with this group.
On Rashan Gary:
I'm ecstatic about where Rashan is and where he's at from the start until right now. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he's going to be all about this year. We'll see where (Za'Darius Smith is at come kickoff on Sunday. But I have all the faith in the world in Rashan Gary. He's an unbelievable kid. Works tirelessly every single day, and really excited about what the future holds for him.
Special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton
On what he likes about new P Corey Bojorquez:
Hang time. Hang time. Hang time. Strong leg. Hang time. Did I say hang time? And we talked about it today, talked about it when he first got here. The going rate is you want your distance to match your hang. But it is our goal to make that a standard to exceed. If we're 45 yards, we want that hang time to be 4.7 or greater, so we can net all of that. He definitely has a toolbox of kicks that returners will have to be prepared for. Very pleased with what he does in the pooch zone.
On Saints returner Deonta Harris:
I'll tell you what, he's the real deal. I don't believe he had enough touches last year to be ranked, but amongst the special teams community and definitely in this building, we know we're up for a challenge. That young man can go. He can go.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On De'Vondre Campbell's comfort level since arriving late spring:
We've gotten some really good work in with him. You actually focus down a little bit more when you have a game plan and you don't have the entire playbook up every single week, although you have bits and pieces of it. He'll be very comfortable. I think he's in a good spot.
On Isaiah McDuffie coming back from injury to land a roster spot:
You can see he shows up on the field as a guy that's going to play extremely hard. He did at Boston College, and those things carried over. He throws his body around. He works extremely hard in the classroom to be able to function at a high level out on the football field, and he really, really, really had to work at it because he was obviously on the shelf there at the beginning of training camp. It was cool to see him flying around in Buffalo, his hometown and all.
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith
On Za'Darius Smith's return from injury:
He had a good practice today. I upped his reps. Yesterday, I think he got around seven to 10. Today, he got around 18. He felt good. It's going to be one of those gameday-decision deals. We'll see how he feels in the morning. It was just good to see him out there, to be honest with you. It's definitely a difference when he's out there. Just his physicality and who he is and his leadership and all that stuff. Guys play better when he's out there.
On Rashan Gary:
It's just all coming together. It's his third year. I've got to the point where he knows exactly what I want. He knows his rushing style, who he is, how he's going to set people up, what his strength is, all that stuff. And then I've expanded his role with some of these drops. He graded out the highest with the drops this training camp – over Preston Smith, which is pretty impressive because Preston's pretty (darn) good at dropping. Rashan's another guy that it means something to him. Everything.
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery
On undrafted rookie Jack Heflin making the team:
When you turned on the tape, you felt him. When I say he earned it, man, he was playing blocks, getting off blocks. He was chasing guys down the line of scrimmage, hitting running backs. He showed up on film in every game he played in. He pressured the quarterback for a guy who's not supposed to pressure the quarterback. When you watch his college film, he was a first- and second-down player. Well, he was hitting the quarterback on first- and second-down opportunities in Buffalo. He just got better each day.
On Saints RB Alvin Kamara:
When you look at his stature, you're like, oh man, he's not the biggest back. But I've seen some training videos, he's got a strong lower half, he's hard to bring down. You've got to tackle with all 11 guys and if he's out in the perimeter, we've got to get out of the stacks and we've got to go get him. And when we get there, we've got to get there with force.
Defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray
On facing Saints QB Jameis Winston:
You know he can throw the deep ball very well. He showed that in preseason. He can drop it in there wherever he needs to. He has an arm that's going to get you about 55-60 yards in the air. I played against him when he was at Tampa, and he did the same thing. He's going to throw the ball deep. You can't just all of a sudden say, well, we don't have Drew Brees and you take a deep breath. You've probably got to cover for a longer stretch.
On facing Kamara again:
We've got to be great tacklers. We have to be able to tackle in open space this week more than anything because they've got a guy who's very dangerous in space. And if you give him any room, then you're going to be in trouble. I think he's probably the most dangerous guy in the NFL in space right now.