GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and defensive assistants met with the media over the past couple of days. Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
On the Cowboys' special teams:
Hard for me to look at the film and find a weakness. Really, really well built. They have a big ball punter, they have a big ball kicker. They've only had two kickoff returns against them so far this year. The majority have been touchbacks. They have an electric returner in (KaVonte) Turpin. He's returning both for them. He's got great speed, he can make you miss, he can go the distance. He's playing year-round football. He's coming out of the USFL, where he just played a whole season and now he's playing again. They're a tremendous coverage team on the outside with 29 (CJ Goodwin) and 1 (Kelvin Joseph) on punt and both of those guys on kickoff. So, this will be a great challenge for us in the kicking game. But with great challenges come wonderful opportunities to rise up and see what it looks like and see how we compare.
On the addition of Johnathan Abram:
He'll come in, he'll be a diligent learner. He can run. He's a physical player and I think he'll have to catch up a little bit to figure out what we're trying to do here defensively. But he knows a little bit about our system and the kicking game. He played in a couple phases, so we'll see how it goes here in the next few days.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On losing Rashan Gary:
It will be an opportunity for other guys to be able to get a chance, but then in the same breath, you can't lose sight of the fact that we lost Rashan Gary, … what he means to this team, what he means to our locker room. He is the true definition of grit and I mean that in the absolute most positive way possible because the mindset, the demeanor, the play that he brings every single day, and that will be missed. There's no doubt about it, but again, like I said initially, it happened. It's unfortunate. We'll miss him, but we all have to rise up in his absence and do our job.
On the Cowboys' running game:
It's a very good run scheme team that especially when Zeke (Elliott) was healthy, they had kind of what we have with AJ and Aaron as far as a big, power back and a more outside perimeter back. But (Tony) Pollard proved that he can really be a do-it-all back when Zeke has been out. So it's a very good run scheme, it's a very good run team with two really good running backs.
Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich
On receivers running slants when Aaron Rodgers is throwing a fade:
That's probably been one of the most frustrating things about the season is you try and address things that have been going wrong, and whether it doesn't get fixed or something new pops up, unforeseen errors … That's one of those things where if you're a wide receiver with Aaron Rodgers you have to be ready for adjustments, and that's why those guys have to be so locked in and just on the same page and when you're not, obviously we're not clicking on all cylinders. We've got to keep working on it, keep drilling it and just be better.
On David Bakhtiari sitting out the second half in Detroit before returning for the final drive:
I think a lot of that had to do with how his knee was reacting to the turf in Ford Field. I don't think we have anymore turf games this year. Hopefully we don't have to worry about that as far as making his knee react a certain way. But, yeah, it's tough, it really is. You trust the guys you know. They're out there battling and just want to go out there and compete with their teammates. For whatever reason, he felt like he couldn't go … The guys as a whole have done a great job just being flexible, stepping up. Zach Tom's doing a great job. Kind of reminds me of what Elgton (Jenkins) had to do a few years ago. He's no flinch, can play multiple positions, play at a pretty solid level. I'm happy with how he's progressing.
Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti
On Quay Walker calling the signals in the huddle:
Did a nice job. It's something that we've been working since he got here, and he did it some in the preseason. We really didn't have any hiccups. He enunciated, and it was good. He did a nice job with it, got us rolling … He'll go to south Georgia every once in a while in his speech. All joking aside, he really did do a nice job. It takes a little bit more studying maybe just to make sure you get all the calls, not just the part of the call that's important to you – the words that are in there that apply to everyone.
On Isaiah McDuffie's recent play when thrown in:
It's great that everybody is seeing what Isaiah is, because I feel like I've talked about him a lot as a guy that really works hard and does everything. Of all the players I've had, he probably worked the hardest as a rookie to learn everything, and it's just nice that … he got out there and he's proven that he's prepared, and he's always going to play with effort and toughness, and you've got to love that about him.
Outside linebackers coach Jason Rebrovich
On preparing players to fill in for Gary:
They're all going to be asked to do certain things in our defense – set an edge, play the run game extremely well, be violent, be physical, and get yourself to a situation to rush the passer on a third down or fourth down if something of that magnitude happens. How you prepare them? Exactly what we just did an hour ago – take them out on the grass and put them in those situations, and then come back in and watch film, and go through those five, 10, 20, 30 clips or whatever we need to go through from a practice standpoint and a game-clip standpoint of the team we're about to play, and visualize and put yourself in those scenarios to be able to make those plays.
Safeties coach Ryan Downard
On new addition Johnathan Abram:
He seems like a pretty sharp guy. Very eager, I'll put it like that. I think that's a good word for him. He definitely seems like a good football IQ. We continue to bring guys in that have football IQs.
I know he was a highly touted guy in the draft. He was an aggressive player – I remember that from his (college) tape – and I remember his attitude being the same way at the combine. That's the one thing that stuck out to me.
Defensive line/run game coordinator Jerry Montgomery
On the run defense:
It comes back to being consistent. We can go in spurts where we go six three-and-outs and then all of a sudden we give up a big play, and then it bleeds you a little bit. It's just all 11 all the time have to do their job. That's the most important thing when you talk about defense. It's like putting a puzzle together. When you fit a run, everybody's got a job to do. If somebody is out of whack, then normally somebody makes up for that. But there's times where other guys aren't. Consistency, that's the biggest thing and it goes back to fundamentals. It goes back to where your eyes are at. Are you doing the little things? Are you pressing to try to make a play and it's somebody else's play instead of just doing your job? All those things lead to having a bad series or two.
On Devonte Wyatt's progress:
Definitely getting better, gaining more trust each day, getting more reps. I want to say he was (at) 12-13 (snaps) or something for us. But yeah, he's deserving of the reps and he's getting them. Just keep giving him opportunities and letting him go out and get his feet wet. He's getting better each week, which is what you want.
Defensive backs/passing game coordinator Jerry Gray
On facing McCarthy's Dallas offense:
The offense is consistent. They always put up points, they compete. I have been against him when I was in Minnesota and he's always going to be on point, ready to attack you.
On Keisean Nixon stepping in:
He's quick, he understands what he's supposed to do. We've done a good job with him, even in training camp, of training him … to cross between nickel and corner. It gives us more flexibility if a guy does go down.