GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and offensive assistant coaches met with the media over the past couple of days. Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On Jacksonville's interest to be head coach, being more ready after the Atlanta opportunity last year, and if anything's been set up:
We definitely have a lot of the gear from being there four years, and appreciate the time I was there. You grow as a coach nonstop everyday, from the things you learn from the players, from Matt, from the coaches, everyone. To get that first one out of the way, it makes it a little more comfortable. You get to organize your thoughts throughout the offseason if that opportunity ever comes up again. Nothing's been set up right now. The sole focus is on Minnesota. That's the No. 1 priority. That's more my agent. He's going to arrange it.
On Randall Cobb coming back to practice:
Great veteran, great presence, just having him on that field with a smile on his face, you love to see it. Just the pep in his step, he misses it, he loves football. He wants to be out there so bad. Anytime you get a veteran back like that who's helped us so much, it's exciting.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On where Jaire Alexander might play when he returns:
Ja had another really good day at practice today. It's just great to have No. 23 back out there. Just the natural energy that he brings, it's infectious. In this league, you can't have enough good corners, you can't have enough good pass rushers, and when get him back full-time, it's a great problem to have when you're throwing a Pro Bowler into the mix. We'll just keep taking it day by day, but he had a really good day today.
On how to fix the run defense:
We came in with urgency on Monday and watched the film. There were some things they did, but a large part of it was things we did. We didn't fit a few things properly. I think we could have gotten off some blocks a little more violently. There were a handful of missed tackles on Chubb, which is going to happen at times when you're playing against a great back. It was the very first thing we talked about on Monday when we came back. We focused on 10 plays, … and those 10 plays we really, really dissected, that was 140 yards of rushing. We corrected those, we hit those. This is a group that has a lot of pride. We played 71 snaps of football in that game, and on 61 snaps we did some really good things. We took the ball away four times. Our pass rush was dominant, with five sacks. The two-minute at the end of the half and end of the game were big. But right now we have to play the run better, there's no doubt about it.
Special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton
On Allen Lazard as a possible backup holder:
We've had several people do holds during training camp. Allen was one of them. It was eight different guys that we've worked holding, so we feel pretty confident going forward if our holder is not back, which we sure hope he is.
On who's stepping up as leaders with Oren Burks and Ty Summers out:
It's not any one particular person by name, but the group, I told Coach Gizzi yesterday, we had our best special-teams practice to date. The guys' awareness and attention to detail is at a heightened level, almost like they don't want to let down their big brothers, OB and Ty. (Minnesota's returner) has two touchdowns, a 98-yarder and a 99-yarder, so this guy can really go. We're up for the challenge.
Quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Luke Getsy
On how Aaron Rodgers has made this a successful season:
If there's one thing that's different this year than any year I've been here, it would probably be the adversity we've had to overcome. He's had some himself, with the COVID deal, and the injuries. The offensive line has never looked the way it has this year in comparison to the other years I've been here as far as the number of different lineups we've put out there. I would say what's impressive is all the adversity we've had to deal with and for him to still go out there and be effective.
On his growth as a coach and what the future might hold:
The growth, I've been very fortunate to learn from so many great coaches and then learn from great players as well. My time here has been second to none. I'm very appreciative of all the people I've gotten to work with in this building. The opportunity to step back into the college game for a year opened my eyes to the type of player entering the NFL. As far as the future growth, we've had a lot of success so our guys deserve those opportunities, and I hope to be part of that. I think if you just keep dominating your role and the role you're in now, that stuff will take care of itself.
Running backs coach Ben Sirmans
On Aaron Jones getting close to breaking a big one:
I think the biggest thing with him is he always goes about his business with every carry or any play like it could be the one. He competes and goes about it with the ball in his hands that way, as though it's going to be the one. This time of year, you always have some nicks, but he's such a tough player but also a tough person, not only physically, and mentally with the right character. He can easily get frustrated not breaking the long ones like he did last year, but he doesn't show it. He just knows he has to get out there and compete every play.
On whether Jones and AJ Dillon can both be effective in cold weather:
I think so, because if you look at Aaron, he's not as big and powerful as AJ is, but the one thing that he is, is strong. He can run at a very compact level, so just going back to look at some of the other cold-weather games we've had, I remember several times he was able to break through tackles, people trying to hit him and he lowers his pads, and I've seen him run through defensive linemen. He may not be able to drag people along the way AJ does, but in terms of his strength in the cold weather, he can be just as dangerous, but just in a different way.
Wide receivers coach Jason Vrable
On seeing Cobb back at practice:
Yeah, it's very encouraging. With Randall, he's the type of guy, a week after the injury when everybody knew he needed to get surgery, he told me I'll be back. Don't worry, I'll be back. His mindset, it's rare. It's all ball. He has that mental capacity to just push himself harder and harder and harder. He's that type of guy, and I knew if anybody was going to come back quick, it's going to be him. He doesn't want to miss this playoff opportunity.
On what has jumped out about Davante Adams:
Since I've been here over three years, he's really honed in on being the best teammate he can be. And not just the receiver room, but expanding his growth in the locker room, bringing guys up toward his level, getting to know his teammates. He's a tremendous leader and just a tremendous guy to be around, in and out of the building. I just sit back from afar and admire it. Guys want to be around him, that energy.
More on Adams:
He just has a mental toughness that's probably in the 1% of the NFL and I think when you truly look at all the guys in that Hall of Fame category, they have what 'Tae has. It's just a toughness to him and a grit whether he's trained it or maybe he was born with it a little bit, this mental toughness that is above and beyond the majority of guys I've ever been around and coached. It's a willpower. We talked about motivation one time, and his great quote was, 'It's more for me. It's an inspiration to be the best ever. And I'm inspired by certain things.' He just has these goals set and this mindset, and around the clock he's going to push himself to literally be the greatest to ever play the game at that position.
Offensive line coach Adam Stenavich
Those guys have kind of been the steady presence ever since that Chicago game when (Josh) Myers went down. And the good thing is they just keep improving. I think Lucas is coming along really well at center. Royce over probably the last four games has played his best ball. And Runyan has really every single week just kept getting better and better. So obviously they've got a lot to work on still, but I like the way they're trending. It's been good to just have those guys inside solidify everything and keep us all on the same page — especially at center with Lucas, making sure we've got the right calls.
More on Runyan:
He's come a long way, and I think two probably main things: No. 1, in camp, he was just very inconsistent with his fundamentals. He would take bad steps, he would use his hands poorly, he'd have high pads, and you'd see flashes of him doing it correctly and having success, and then as he's kept playing, he's just been more consistent with all the basic fundamentals that put you in position to block people. And then, as you do that, once you just basically master your fundamentals, then it's him just playing with more confidence and he's done a really good job handling the change on the left side and really helping Yosh (Nijman) out and echoing what Lucas has to say. I think he's just getting more confidence the more he plays.
Tight ends coach Justin Outten
On Josiah Deguara:
I feel like he's just progressively gotten better. The protection part of it … he's just gotten better in that world. As far as his ceiling, it's still high. He's going to keep growing in every facet of this game, whether it's mentally or physically. I'm really happy with is progress so far. Him getting the brunt of the reps now that he had to step in that role when Bobby (Tonyan) went down, I feel like it's just a repetition thing, and for a guy missing most of his first year, this is just a continuation of his rookie season physically. Mentally, he's really advanced in that room. He asks the right questions, he's on top of the film work, he's a grinder and he's a football junkie. He's really really exciting to be around, too. You can tell he's a natural born leader. He's just got that charisma that people want to attract to, and he handles himself extremely well. If you didn't know hi mand you met him for the first time last year, you'd think he was in the league for about five years already. So it's a credit to him and the role he's taken on. The game's definitely not too big for him.