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Packers rookie TE Tucker Kraft 'attacks the game'

Key comments from Green Bay’s offensive position coaches

TE Tucker Kraft
TE Tucker Kraft

GREEN BAY – The Packers' offensive position coaches met with the media Monday. Here's a sampling of their key comments.

Offensive line coach Luke Butkus

On the O-line rotations:

I think that's maybe what's helping a little bit, is guys are feeling that. Everybody works their butts off, there's no question about that. But this competition of building this room, off of competition, everybody's stepped up. It's been great for the room. Those guys are interchangeable right now with the communication factor. It's been great, and we're going to continue to roll with it until someone really steps up and says OK. But I think it's been great for the room.

On Zach Tom holding down RT:

He's too small, too skinny, not strong enough (chuckle). It's amazing, just Zach Tom's awareness of his body, his control of his body. The way he can move, the way he can punch, the way he can mirror defenders. That's what pass protection is about. It may not look pretty all the time, but I'll tell you what, man, it's just about getting your guy blocked. I'm going to get on him about technique, fundamentals, but there are times he looks like he's going to fall over, looks like he's off-balance, and he has that awareness about himself to get guys blocked. So again, I'd love to stand up here and pound my chest saying I taught him all that, but he's a kid that's smart, tough, and a really good athlete.

Tight ends coach John Dunn

On Luke Musgrave's injury:

It happens fast on the field. I know when he came off he was obviously winded and out of breath. That's kind of what it was in the moment. Knocked the breath out of him, and then later discovered it was more.

On Tucker Kraft's sideline catch and run vs. Chargers:

That was an impressive play. He's a very strong player, whether that's strong hands, in the run game blocking. He's got really good body movement, really good body control, and he really is a strong, thick player. That's something that's benefited him certainly. As technique comes along with that, it can enhance and bring out your strengths as well.

He has a love for the game, and you see it in that play. I know that sounds weird because he catches the ball and he hurdles a guy. But (it shows) just more his mentality of the way he plays the game. He attacks the game, whether he's blocking, catching, running, it doesn't matter.

Passing game coordinator/receivers coach Jason Vrable

On Malik Heath's four catches in Detroit:

The four targets that he got were all man coverage and he won against man coverage on all four, which is an impressive thing to do to be 4-for-4. You could just see his confidence. About two, three weeks ago, I brought up to Matt in practice, 'Hey, 18's doing a heck of a job on special teams and making plays in practice.' He was just catching everything and playing with confidence and smiling more. You could just feel, the beginning of the year, he kind of felt like the whole world was coming down on him if he made a mistake. And now, he's like, 'Let's go get it.' We brought it up as a staff to give him a shot again and the last two weeks he's played well and done a great job for Rich and done a great job for us. It's been awesome to see his growth this year.

On the rookie WRs bouncing back from mistakes:

I think they're all winners. There's guys who can make an excuse or blame somebody. Those guys were crushed over it. They knew that they let the team down and they're really upset. But it's all the process. If you watch them in practice, I've watched 13, 18, 11 make all those exact plays in practice. I just said, 'Guys, you keep working the way we're doing, which is a high-end work ethic. Hopefully that ball's going to start going your way,' which it has. I think another thing is the way Jordan's been. He's great with the guys. He'll go over and put his arm around them and say, 'Hey, I've got you and I'm going to come back to you. Don't blink. Let's go.' And I think that's been infectious for the young guys. They're mad at themselves. I might be mad at them at the time and we're obviously all down, but when you have 10, the way that he's groomed those guys and been a friend to them, I would say he's led our offense. You can see Jordan's personality. He did yell at our guys once or twice, which I was actually excited about to see him start to come into his own and, when they mess up, to get on them. But, at the same time, Jordan's been an exceptional leader for them and I think Jordan's confidence in them and what they say in the meeting room when he's like, 'Hey, keep doing that. That's what we need. The ball's going to come your way,' (and) it has.

Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements

On Jordan Love's improvement:

He's a kid that listens, tries to do what you want him to do, but at some point you have to go out there and actually do it. He's gotten experience. He's gotten better as the season has gone on. The things that we see during a game and make corrections on, he'll write them down and work drills to try to correct them. It's starting to show up in the game, what we tried to talk about through the course of the year. I think this was probably his best game from the standpoint of checking the ball down when he needed to – we got some big plays on checkdowns – throwing it away when he needed to so we didn't get sacks.

it's the decision-making in split-second situations. Every quarterback who has a good arm – which Jordan does – likes to throw it down the field, but sometimes you have to recognize that throwing it down the field isn't necessarily the best option on a particular play. So you have treat the checkdown as an extension of the running game.

I think he's a good player. He can become as good as he wants to be. It's encouraging to see the improvement that he has made. Once you've made that improvement, you know you can do it. You just have to do it consistently.

On Kansas City's blitzes:

That's their style of defense. They're not going to do it just because it's Jordan. If you watch them, they're a blitzing defense. They'll show you like it's coming from one side and they'll bring it from the other side. They'll blitz all out and not have a safety in the middle of the field, and they'll do it at any time. The important thing is you have to know what the concept is, as I said know where your checkdown is if they're able to get out if they don't have a protection responsibility, or throw it away if you need to. But you have to know where your guys are.

Running backs coach Ben Sirmans

On the blitz pickups at Detroit:

They were pretty important, especially understanding the type of pass rushers that Detroit … those guys, typically you get some guys that try to mix it up when they blitz, but they try to come through you. Seeing us be able to step up, buy Jordan some time, I thought that was big. That's one of the biggest attributes a guy like Patrick Taylor has, his ability to pick up pressure and be able to recognize when things are coming. We knew we were going to be challenged in that department.

On Kansas City's blitzes:

They bring it from everywhere, and everybody is eligible to blitz in their system, so you really have to have great awareness, and they are relentless going to the quarterback and getting after the quarterback.

On AJ Dillon's improved play:

A big part of it has just been in his attitude and how he's going about his business. We talked about playing a lot freer, don't feel like you've got to do everything. Just get out there and play free and play aggressively. I think once he relaxed and focused on that part of his game, it's led to him playing a lot more the way we expect him to play, what he's capable of.

I think it's his energy. He's actually becoming even more of a leader with things you don't have the opportunity to see, whether it's in the locker room or in practices. It's almost like he changed his whole mindset and outlook on how he needs to go about his business, and sometimes that's what you need to make that kind of transformation, because your physical skills are your physical skills. When you're able to enhance them through just your mindset and how you go about your business, it can result in a lot of positive things, and I think that's the biggest thing you're seeing with him.

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