GREEN BAY – The Packers' top three assistant coaches spoke with the media on Wednesday in the Lambeau Field auditorium.
Here's a synopsis of the key comments from the coordinators:
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin
On Rodgers' chemistry with Graham:
"I think it's getting better every day. Jimmy has really done a great job learning the playbook, learning the scheme, wants to get in there. You almost have to hold him back. He's a really sharp guy. Through five practices, I'm really pleased with it so far."
On the roles of the tight ends:
"It's still evolving. We got Marcedes rather late in the offseason program, but I love his approach to the game as well for a guy that's accomplished as much as he's accomplished. They're eager to learn, Jimmy and Marcedes. Lance has a lot of versatility, and the young guys are doing some good things as well. It's a good problem to have."
On the rookie wide receivers:
"They're rookies, that's one thing. No, they're doing a great job. Getting out there running one-on-one routes, seeing different schematic things is just an invaluable resource for these guys. Every day is a new day. Every install the volume of plays we're putting in will get less and less now, so I really look to see them improve. Not that they haven't already, but there's a lot of information on their plate at this point in time."
"When you watch him on tape, one thing that jumps out to me – I can't sit here and give you his 40 time – but his play speed has been good in camp. Our quarterbacks are doing a good job finding him. We like to say when you're able to be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be, sometimes it's not more complicated than that."
On his opening message to the team:
"For us as an offensive unit, training camp has to be all about progress. Not perfection, we're not there yet – we'd love to be perfect every single time; it's not going to happen – but we need to see progress on a daily basis.
"You have to fall in love with the grind of football, and you have to have some joy in the journey. As I like to say, you have to bring that passion, that energy, and that love of the game to training camp, and find a way to enjoy it."
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
On losing Jake Ryan, and the inside linebacker group:
"It's tough. You see how much he put into it, the preparation. You feel for him. But it's part of it and the train keeps moving.
"We have an experienced, very productive guy last year in Blake. The rookie 'OB' has flashed some things. The transition from the college game to the NFL, it takes some time. He's very intelligent, he processes very quickly, but there's a learning curve. … Ahmad Thomas certainly has flashed some coverage ability so far, and we have some other young guys. We'll see how it plays out. It's a big loss with Jake, and we're going to get together as a staff later this week, talk about the roster, and see where we are moving forward."
On installing his defense in a new place once again:
"It's been smoother this year because of the reduced inventory, as I talked about in the spring, taking out a lot of calls. Training camp typically was an 85-to-90-call deal, … but we decided we wanted our best 45 to 50 calls, and I think that's helped. Practices just aren't long enough to get everything repped the way you want it."
On his opening message to the team:
"The theme of it was just our mentality, what I spoke on in the spring here, mindset over scheme. It doesn't really matter what we're playing, it's more how we play it.
"I'd like to think it was well-received, but at the end of the day it was talk. That was part of the message, too. Everybody is talking about it right now. How do we separate ourselves from the other 31 teams talking about winning a Super Bowl?"
On the interceptions of Rodgers:
"It gives our guys confidence. What a gift we have on defense to go against one of the elite quarterbacks to ever play the game. It's tremendous for us, and for us to have that success. It's a challenge for him. He's not going against the same defense he's gone against for years and years. I love the competition part of it. It's great when our guys can make a play, but from the beginning of camp, that's the bottom line is great competition."
Special teams coordinator Ron Zook
On the long snappers:
"We're trying to put as much pressure on both of them as we can, try to see every pressure, every twist, and make sure they feel confident in what they're doing. I think the snaps are good. Mason's comfortable with where the snaps are and JK is doing a good job on the holds."
On finding gunners:
"A lot of people forget, Trevor had more tackles than Jeff last year as a gunner. The thing we're trying to do there is get as many guys to do it as we can. I feel good about the first 4-5 guys. Jaire and the young guys, I tell them it's a battle out there. Next Thursday they'll find out it's a lot harder."
On the kickoff changes:
"It still comes down to the fundamental things we talk about, sprinting down there to an area, getting off blocks. We still have to teach those things. It remains to be seen exactly what people are going to try to do. In these preseason games you're going to see a lot of returns. I know we want to try to return them all to see how our guys can handle it.
"What they're trying to do is make the play safer, but they don't want to take the excitement out of the game. They want to get rid of that straight-line speed where you get the big collision, and I think it's going to do that. I think it's going to make it an exciting play."
"I've been pleased with him. The biggest thing about him obviously is inexperience, so consistency will come. What's impressed me so much is he's like a sponge. Everyone knows he's got a great leg, a lot of power, but all he wants to do is learn in the game, and to me that's impressive.
"He wants to be like Mason. He wants to be in the NFL for a long time. He has not given me any indication the game is too big for him. He's not too full of himself. He wants to be the best he can be. I'm excited about his future."