GREEN BAY – The Packers' three coordinators and defensive assistant coaches met with the media via Zoom over the last two days. Here's a summary of their key comments:
Special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga
On Mason Crosby:
He's had a really good solid camp. We've said many times he's a great pro. You're playing different wind conditions and trying different things through camp, but I think he's been really solid, striking the ball really well.
On what it takes to earn a roster spot:
You're looking for guys who can accelerate and change direction, just looking for those movement skills to play out in space on special teams. We've tried to make things, without covering full field kickoffs and full punts, you get a feel for a guy's movement and his consistency.
On JK Scott as a holder:
He's really developed into a good holder. It's not something he did a lot at Alabama. He didn't do it until his senior year because they usually had a quarterback do it. It's something he's worked on a lot, working on the Jugs machine off to the side. We have all the faith in the world in him.
On whether guys block better for a better returner:
We talk about doing your one-eleventh. Do your job. If all 11 guys are doing their job, you're going to have a good play. Last year a lot of times, I could see the blocking getting better. I could see it in practice and I could see it happening in games. I don't know if guys played harder necessarily. We happened to have success and it coincided with Tyler getting here. I don't know if one caused the other.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
I think we've done a good job rotating all those guys through camp. Obviously we won't know until we get closer, but both of those guys have gotten quality reps and they're Year 2 in the system, so we'll be confident if those guys have to go in there.
On Kamal Martin:
First thing, he's very instinctive. There's some things he did naturally. We use the term triggering, when he sees something and reacts to it quickly. He had a knack for seeing things a little bit faster. We also like his body type. He's a long guy who's been productive. He's very intelligent, picked it up very quick. It's certainly a shame he had a setback, but I think we all see a pretty bright future for him here.
On getting ready with all the limitations:
Most teams are going through that, just not having a gauge of how are we. We've done some different things schematically, added some things, taken some things out, and dedicated ourselves to it from a coaching staff in the offseason and it's carried over to the players. We feel good about where we are but we won't know for sure until we're going against somebody else.
I think they took a big step from a mental standpoint in the meetings in the spring. It helped to tighten down some things we were doing and gear the communication to things we do well. For us, I feel really good about the back end knowing this is a group with Chandon Sullivan at the nickel and Jaire Alexander and Kevin King outside and Darnell and Adrian, that's a real solid unit. Guys that are smart, they understand the game, they communicate well. We're going to lean on them heavily through the course of this year.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On Aaron Rodgers:
He's been awesome. He's come in, we had the long offseason where we didn't really get to see each other except for the Zoom stuff. He's come in here with a vengeance and a great attitude. Everybody's seen it and everybody's felt it. From installs to practice to everything, he's been a lot more spirited. He's been great for Jordan and Tim. It's that fun factor. In the end, this is a game. We want to have fun and we want to compete. However he's gotten there, he's done a great job getting there and he's been a pleasure to be around.
On running the ball better against stacked fronts:
At times you are going to have to run the ball versus that heavy box. Against a light box, you're going to have to be successful. But to have things look the same, having everything marry up from the play passes to the run game, those are so critical. To have a good mix and not force it in that heavy box, and take advantage downfield, we have to mix it up throughout the season.
On feeling ready with such limited prep time:
I remember last year, brand new offense, had a whole offseason and everything, you were still uncertain to an extent. You feel good but there's still going to be that uncertainty with how you're going to attack and who you're going to attack with. Every time you go into that season in a first game, there's always those question marks.
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith
On Rashan Gary:
He's starting to feel things. He's starting to feel comfortable. Things are starting to slow down for him, especially the defenses. When the defense slows down, your alignment and assignment, now you can play football. As a rookie you're just trying to survive. His speed hurts a lot of people, so a lot of guys sit back in a vertical set, so that's one thing we immediately think is speed to power. It all depends on what he's getting. He's starting to open it up and he's trusting who he is.
On having different skill sets at the position:
Some coaches make a player into how you see them. I don't do that. You build a skill set off of who they are. We do a lot of the same moves, but they don't do all of them. You don't have to mold a player one way.
On potentially having three top-level edge rushers with Gary coming on:
Gutey sees the value of people affecting the quarterback up front. Some of these teams have only one pass rusher. It's easy to take out one. You start getting multiple ones, that's tough, and then you add one inside as well. You can't double everybody. Somebody's going to get a one-on-one and you've got to win that one-on-one.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On Christian Kirksey, the leader:
He is a guy that is very thoughtful in his words and very deliberate in his actions. It's easy to get behind because he really puts a lot of thought into everything that he does and he says. He's obviously a really good football player but he's a good person in a lot of different ways. It's easy to get behind him and he's fun. He's a guy. He's a dude. It's been fun to be around him and I think our players feel the same way.
He played a boatload in the preseason (last year). We were kind of laughing about that in the meeting about he went wire-to-wire in three of the four preseason games. So he played a lot of football for us in the preseason and then as the season went on there, he was allowed to focus on special teams. Coming into this year just the grasp of what to say, when to say and why to say it. That was his biggest thing, is to understand the whys of the defense. And Ty's done a nice job of understanding the whys of the defense.
Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray
On his message regarding officials:
Don't make it close for the official. Without them going through preseason, they're going to be throwing flags, they're going to be trying to protect guys. That's what their job is. Our job is to make sure we don't make it close for the official to throw a flag.
On his work with Kevin King:
With him being about 6-2 ½, big, long corner that run, God blessed him with long arms so my deal is use some of that length in order to help you. So we watched some Nnmadi (Asomugha) film when he was at Oakland, who I thought was one of the top-flight corners in the league when he was there for seven years. When you see a guy like that you can kind of mimic some of the things he does. I know a lot of the Pete Carroll system, pressure on the weak side, always get your hands on guys. I think Kevin can do that and disrupt a lot of the routes and not always be chasing guys down. Especially when you're a long corner and you can run.
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery
On Kingsley Keke:
I'm a stickler on the little things. So, he makes me really happy when he does things the right way. And there's days where he's still trying to play backyard ball and not play within the system and so those days, we just take a step back. But he's done some really nice things at times. He's being tougher at the point of attack. We all know he's a good athlete. We all know he's a kid that should be able to get after the quarterback, but absolutely you have to stop the run in order to get the quarterback to throw the football.
On Kenny Clark:
He's dialed in. He had a great offseason. He found a way to take care of his body, get bigger, faster, stronger. And he s also become better as a rusher. Even with is six sacks last year, the guy was second in interior tackles and pressures, which is crazy for a nose tackle. He gets labeled as a nose tackle but the guy can play multiple, different positions. I think he's done a tremendous job and we're excited to see where it goes. The guy gets stronger as the season goes. I mean, it's amazing.
On Tyler Lancaster:
He is an extra coach in the room. Unbelievable kid. Unbelievable person. He writes everything I tell him down, everything I tell another person, he writes down. When we're on the field, if I miss something, he's seeing it. He is another coach on the field. Love having him around. Outstanding kid, person. Leads by example. Willing to help anybody get better. If he's got to take time out of his day to help somebody prepare for the game, he'll do that. He's a team player. He's a great fit here in Green Bay. We love him.
The Green Bay Packers practiced on Ray Nitschke Field on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.