GREEN BAY – At the end of a row filled with big personalities, Raven Greene often can be found burrowed into his locker with his head in the playbook or quietly scrolling through his phone.
Polite and unassuming, the Packers’ undrafted rookie safety is described by teammates as a young and hungry player who’s always prepared and willing to go the extra mile to contribute.
When Greene’s time finally came on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, the 5-foot-11, 197-pound safety came through for Green Bay’s defense and special-teams unit.
Already a fixture on special teams for most of the year, Greene was thrust into action in the secondary when starting safety Kentrell Brice left the game after landing awkwardly on his ankle.
The former James Madison standout slid into the Packers’ defense seamlessly. He nearly had an interception in the second quarter, but had a “dream play” when he registered his first NFL sack on third-and-7 at the end of the third quarter, effectively pushing the Dolphins out of field-goal range.
A few minutes later, Greene also picked up 26 yards on fourth-and-3, taking a direct snap on a fake punt from the Miami 49 and setting up a Mason Crosby 38-yard field goal to put the Packers ahead by three scores.
“You could see in training camp Raven was doing some really good things on special teams,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “I thought he did a lot of good things. That fake, to just jump in there in Week 1 and do it, because obviously he hadn’t been the starter there … I thought he made some plays on defense, too.”
Greene overcame two season-ending injuries during his five years at James Madison, but rebounded to finish his college career with the school record in both passes defensed (34) and interceptions (14).
After going undrafted in the spring, Greene signed with Green Bay in hopes of following in the footsteps of Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Brice, Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo, unsung defensive backs who developed into contributors with the Packers after entering the league as college free agents.
Like Greene, Brice prefers to let his play do the talking. Given their humble beginnings, the third-year veteran immediately took Greene under his wing shortly after the undrafted rookie signed with Green Bay in the spring.
At first, Greene merely rotated in when Josh Jones slid into the box in the Packers’ dime package. By the end of the game, however, Greene was playing every down due to injuries at the cornerback position.
After not seeing any action on defense through the first eight games of the season, Greene played 30 snaps to help the Packers put away the Dolphins. Greene credited Brice’s influence for aiding his preparation.
“He actually helped me prepare for this moment a lot,” Greene said. “I can thank him for taking me under his wing when I came in. All the older guys really stressing everything when it comes to preparation and communication, and football in general, just how to be a professional, so they really helped me out.”
Greene admitted to battling a few nerves Sunday night. Prior to his release last Tuesday, Jermaine Whitehead previously served as the personal protector on the punt team and would have been the individual fielding the direct snap.
With a few practice reps and a jolt of confidence from his teammates, Greene was ready for the opportunity. After clearing the edge, he was surprised to see nothing but open field.
“I’ve never seen so much green grass,” Greene smiled. “It feels really good to be able to do my part and play my 1/11th. That’s all I can say.”
Facing a quick turnaround for Thursday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Packers estimated Brice, Kevin King (hamstring) and Bashaud Breeland (groin) would not have practiced on Monday’s injury report.
If called upon in Seattle, teammates know Greene will be up to the challenge once again.
“Raven is a really smart guy,” said linebacker James Crawford, who praised Greene for helping him get acclimated after signing with the team during training camp.
“Even if the game plan isn’t with him involved, he’s prepared like he is involved. So when moments come up like that, he’s ready to make the play and the coaches know it. Now everybody is starting to see that he’s ready for this level.”