Switch to sideline gives Pettine ‘best of both worlds’

Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine
Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine

GREEN BAY – The Packers’ coordinators addressed the media on Saturday morning. Here are some highlights from their news conferences:

Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine

On tackling:

We keep drilling it. We have to walk that fine line. I know every team has their philosophy, but knowing a lot of the coaches around the league, most teams don’t do live work in the body of practice. That’s something you have to try to simulate the best you can. There’s no substitute for those live reps and a lot of our misses are with our young guys. I think some of it is just getting used to the speed of the game and some of the athletes they’re trying to tackle as opposed to what it was like for them in college. Understanding they have to take that extra step, they have to bring their feet and they have to make sure that technique part is right; that they’re wrapping with their arms. We’ve missed some where we’ve tried to hit guys and knock them to the ground and we’re just bouncing off. So they’re figuring that out the hard way. But we’re going to continue to work it. We’re not going to panic and go to live tackling drills. We understand the issues and who the culprits are, and hopefully we’ll take a step forward this week.

On how Curtis Bolton has handled first-team reps:

I think he’s handled it well. He’s a guy we were very pleased to sign as an undrafted free agent. It’s not a surprise to us he’s done some of the things he’s done. He’s done it on a big stage. Just not having the measurable you can see why he fell and didn’t get drafted, but this kid is a football player. He’s very instinctive. He’s done a really nice job of soaking in what we’re doing and applying it on the field. Obviously we’re looking forward to get O.B. back, but so far, Curtis has done a nice job in his spot.

On Rashan Gary’s development:

Without a doubt. We’re pleased with where he is. Just teaching him the outside linebacker position, we knew he was going to be a little work in progress. There’s some things he’s doing now he won’t be doing in the regular season. Once we get closer, we’ll hone that down and get him in situations where he’s ready to excel. He’s done a nice job with most of them. Sometimes it’s just the nature of the game. Baltimore was getting the ball out quick so there weren’t as many extended drop-back opportunities. That’s part it. Overall, we’re pleased with where he is and the direction he’s headed.

On moving from the coaches box to coaching on the field:

I’m an information guy. I like to spread out. I feel this past year I was able to train some of the guys that are here who are still going to be up top as far as what I’m looking for, information-wise, that I can get the best of both worlds. I can still get that info without having to be up there. But I just felt the need to be a little bit more hands-on. Another part of it too is the logistics. Here at Lambeau, it’s not the easiest path to get to the press box. It takes some time. You have to go to the elevator, then you’re up and then you’re on a golf cart. Then, you’re off of that and you’re in elevator lobby and you’re up to another elevator lobby and then you’re out and you walk. It’s a process and you have to leave early enough to get up there and get settled. You kind of miss that time at the end to be able to address the players and look them in the eye, and go around and make any adjustments pre-game and the same thing at halftime. By the time you get down, those halftimes go pretty quick. You guys are up eating food in the press box, we’re scrambling to go through our substitutions, who’s injured and get word from the trainers, and make any schematic adjustments; what’s working, what’s not working. Position coaches break out get with their players and the coordinators circle through. That was really hard to get all that done. I found myself having to leave so early. There’s some places on the road where it’s easier access, you’re up and you’re down, but I didn’t like that lack of access to the players. With our call sheet being simpler this year, I think we can cut down on our volume. I don’t have to have access to as much stuff up top to spread out and go through. So I just felt it was a natural thing to make the move.

On Tony Brown’s improvement:

It’s not only his improvement as a football player, but the maturity part, too. He’s come a long way. He had that penalty against Detroit I never let him forget about, where he taunted a guy after we had a third-down stop. But he loves football. He’s dedicated about getting better at his craft. He’s done a really good job of responding to the coaching, taking the things he needed to work on and improving.

On Darnell Savage:

It was unfortunate he missed that time and was definitely behind. There was some rust that I’m not sure is all off yet, but he flashed the ability and stuff we know he’s capable of. I think he tried to tackle a guy without wrapping. There’s some technique things he needs to clean up but that just comes with playing an NFL game. There’s no substitute for getting those reps.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett

On getting Aaron Rodgers ready for the regular season:

Aaron is such a cerebral guy. He wants to know everything and understand the system in and out. We have to test him mentally and push him. That’s what he thrives on. He’s played a lot of football. … Whenever you look at the preseason, it’s a give-and-take, risk-reward look. Of course, you always want certain people out there as much as possible but you also want to be ready for opening day. We want to do what’s best for the team and what’s best for Aaron. If we continue to push him mentally, we’ll be ready to rock.

On Allen Lazard’s improvement from when he coached him in Jacksonville:

He’s definitely come a long way. I was shocked at how much weight he had lost. He really had slimmed down, and I think that helped with his speed. I think the big thing with Allen is intelligence and understanding the system. He goes so hard. Every play, his effort is maxed out every time. He’s really done a nice job and coming a long way.

On Lazard and Darrius Shepherd standing out:

Whenever you look at football, a lot of times people think bigger, faster, stronger. I think there’s times where it’s the smarter, you are the better chance you have to be out there because people trust you. Because it’s really getting everybody to trust you. Those two guys have really grasped that and shown they can play any position, anywhere, and earned the trust of the coaches, players and quarterbacks. The starting point is where do I line up, what do I do, what’s the assignment. Those guys have put themselves in a position to get on the field and show what they can do.

On DeShone Kizer not turning over the ball:

Looking at the first game, I thought he came out and his composure was awesome. I was interested to see how he’d respond with the crowd at home. He didn’t seem nervous or anxious. It wasn’t too big. I think that allowed him to calm down and just play the play. There’s room for improvement, but he’s definitely come out with great composure.

On Elgton Jenkins pushing for a starting spot:

Elgton’s keeping his head down and playing hard. You always want competition because it makes the entire team better. I think Lane (Taylor) has responded well and seeing what the rookie can do, too.

On Aaron Jones’ potential in this offense:

His ability to get out of the backfield and catching balls. When he touches it, anything can happen. When he breaks one, you have that ‘X’ button to get down the field and score.

Special-teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga

On Darrius Shepherd on returns:

He did good things. We have confidence in him. He’s a four-time champion. He’s natural back there. … They all come in different sizes. They all come in different body types. You can a guy who can accelerate with great vision. Kick returner, you want a bigger body type who can hold up to collisions, but he’s a smart guy. We’re going to go with the best guy available and he continues to get better.

On finding a returner:

If you came out and watched us in pre-practice, we have all kind of guys catching kicks and train guys. Allen Lazard had some returns in college. We’re back there working on the fundamentals of kick return, punt return. We’re trying to develop as many guys as we can. My feelings haven’t changed on Trevor Davis. We’re high on him and is a proven returner, but we’re just looking to train guys.

On how Mason Crosby has looked:

He’s come back and kicked the ball really well. I’ve been really happy and pleased with his progress so far.

On using Bolton on special teams:

He’s a young guy who runs well, he’s athletic. When we’re on our look teams, he stays out there regardless. I think he can do some good things for us. He’s a good coverage player. He’s a young guy who continues to progress. I’m excited about him. Defensively, he played well, too. He did some good things on the blocking units, also. I’m excited about him.

On Jake Kumerow:

He’s continued to progress from the spring through training camp. He’s a big enough body we play him in some non-traditional roles as a receiver. We played them on center on returns. When you look at Baltimore’s roster and Coach Harbaugh’s tradition on special teams, so that was a good challenge for our guys. Jake is a tough kid who can help us.

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