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'Trusting himself,' Packers S Darnell Savage has 'flipped the switch'

Key comments from Green Bay’s coordinators and defensive assistants

S Darnell Savage
S Darnell Savage

GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators and defensive assistant coaches met with the media over the past couple of days. Here's a sampling of their key comments.

Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia

On Jayden Reed on punt returns:

He seems very comfortable back there. He's really worked hard at it in practice. I thought we did a good job in space with some of the blocks that we had. Thought we were pretty physical at the point of attack to give him a good start, and I thought he did a really great job on the boundary, staying in bounds as long as he did, following some of those good blocks. Hopefully we just keep improving in that area.

On Atlanta's Cordarrelle Patterson:

He's really big and fast and he's kind of a fearless guy. He has a lot of confidence in his ability to break tackles, to go the distance. He's done it a bunch. That's probably what makes him special. He has great vision and he can break tackles as he gets through the hole. We're expecting to play against him. We're expecting him to take it out as far back as he can go to make a play.

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry

On Rashan Gary:

His impact is always going to be felt, but it's all the other things in addition to his playing the left side or the right side of the edge of our defense, it's his demeanor, it's his grit, it's his play style. It's everything he brings to us on a daily basis from, the way he plays the game, that's the way his approach is in everything he does, whether it's a meeting, whether it's a walk-through, whether it's practice, he approaches it the same way. I think even for a veteran player, you feed off that energy.

On Quay Walker's pick-six:

Obviously, it was a great play in the game. It's funny. It was either Thursday or Friday last week, I was in the meeting room with the linebackers and I don't know how the heck it came up but I think they were talking about who has the best hands or whatever. Quay said something and 'Dre (Campbell) was like, 'When was the last time you had a pick?' Quay thought about it and he hadn't had a pick since his high school. He hadn't had a pick like in six years or something. That was the first thing that I said to him in the locker room after the game. I was like, 'We were just talking about you hadn't had a danged pick in six years and you got one.' Just a heck of a play by him. He's doing good. I hope it continues.

On the rookie contributions:

To think back where those guys were the very first day they set foot in here six months ago in the rookie minicamp … the good thing is they got a ton of work in OTAs, they got a ton of work all through training camp. They were able to do a lot of good things and make strides in the preseason. When you get to log all that work, hopefully you want to see that it pays off for you once the season starts. They all played solid. We expect them to keep on improving and stacking blocks every single week.

On Atlanta's Bijan Robinson:

Going back a little bit of the film that I saw – when you're getting ready for the draft, you're evaluating defensive players that played against Texas last year – I distinctly remember, it's like, oh my God, he always makes the first guy miss. That's an unbelievable trait for a running back, obviously, to make people miss and miss tackles. He's an elite back. Obviously, a top 10 pick and he's one of those do-it-all backs. They line him up outside – some of the things we do with Aaron Jones as far as when he have two halfbacks on the field, one of them is the fly motion guy – so very versatile. He's not a good back, he's an elite back.

Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich

On Jordan Love's outing:

He made good decisions, protected the ball, was poised. Our O-line did a nice job protecting for him, gave him some time to go through his progressions, but I thought he looked relaxed and he looked confident.

On the throwback screen for 51 yards:

It was huge. Anytime you're working on those plays or you're calling those plays, it's kind of a feast-or-famine deal and we were able to get the look we wanted. We did a great job with the O-line getting out in front of the backs, and our receivers did an awesome job blocking down the field, getting hats on hats and just getting a huge explosive play. It was a very close game at that point in time and kind of got us rolling.

On the young tight ends:

All those guys did a good job. They have a lot to improve on, but you could see as the game was going it wasn't too big for them, they all had good looks in their eyes, they were all aggressive. Yeah, I like that room. Obviously not a lot of experience, but they're all tough kids, that play very hard and they play the right way. So I think just as the season progresses I'm looking for a lot of improvement from those guys.

On Romeo Doubs' improvements in Year 2:

His overall route-running detail, things like that, where he can do more. But you saw, he's always had powerful hands. The way he went up for that fade and caught that, that's pretty impressive. Just his confidence and then him in the run game, too, you can see he's more confident in there blocking people.

Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti

On Quay Walker's INT return:

He's athletic enough to do what he wants on the football field, that's for sure. I think he lacked vision, then he gained vision, then he lacked vision again. If I was grading that out as a linebacker coach, grading the running style, it was bad to good, back to bad again.

On facing Atlanta's run game:

Run defense in and of itself is a team game, and you have to do a lot of things right. Everybody has to trust everybody else. Each team is going to present different challenges. Chicago has one run offense, Atlanta has another one. It's understanding a lot of times it's not what we do it's how we do it. That's a key to what we're trying to stress right now. You can always be aggressive, but you have to know what angle to the ball you're taking. You're always going to play with the same attitude, but you just need to know how that fits into what defense we have called and what play they have called.

Defensive passing game coordinator Greg Williams

On Atlanta WR Drake London:

I thought he had a really good rookie season, out of USC. He's a big target. I think he does have a lot of rapport with the quarterback. He's going to present a challenge just because of his catch radius and his size. He's a big guy. It'll be a big challenge for us … not just because of his size but his ability to go up and high point it and catch it. He has really soft hands.

On Atlanta TE Kyle Pitts:

When I watched him out of college, looking at DBs in the SEC, I'd always watch them against Kyle Pitts, and 50-50 balls were more like 90-10 balls for him. I don't think contested catches were his thing. He never missed them.

He's another sponge for information. He really takes it in, very coachable. The one thing he does which you like, he allows us to coach him and he actually goes out there and tries to act out the things we talk about. He tries to stay in the right leverages and do the things he's being coached to do, and that's why you've seen him have some of the success he's had. He's still young and he's still a rookie, but he is somebody that is growing and we have high hopes for that he'll continue to grow.

He never changed, from rookie minicamp to when the vets showed up in OTAs, to when training camp started, and then the vets showed up in training camp, he stayed the same. He didn't waver. He continued to ask questions. He continued to listen. I think he's earned the respect of his teammates because of how he goes about his business. He's earned the respect more by what he does than what he says.

Defensive backs coach Ryan Downard

On Darnell Savage's performance in Chicago:

That's what I expect from him. I've stood up here and told you I believe in him, his abilities. I thought he did a really good job trusting himself, pulling the trigger. I just think it's a product of his preparation. He's really flipped the switch in terms of practice habits. Not to say that he wasn't practicing hard in the past. That's not what I'm saying. But he's managed to take it to a new level. He's bought into tracking the football in our team periods, not only in the air but in tackling, searing his eyes into the near hip. That's how you get better at open-field tackling in the NFL. You have to take advantage of those team reps, fitting all the way up to the ball. It's so easy just to let off the gas and say, OK, I would've made that rather than taking that extra step and fitting up next to the hip. He's really done a great job, just his overall demeanor and approach. We saw some of the results be reflected.

On needing to disguise defensive looks vs. Atlanta:

That's always the case. You always want the quarterback to have to make the judgment post-snap on what you're in. You also want him to have a question mark in his mind pre-snap as to … are they spinning the safeties down to a single-high look, are they playing split-safety shell … so that he can't get into the proper run, so that they can't properly target the run, can it to the opposite direction, get from a run to a pass, vice-versa. That is always important with our guys.

On Rudy Ford winning the starting safety job:

Everybody had a shot at that, right? There was opportunity for everybody to spur on that competition. At the end of the day, Rudy showed great call command. He plays extremely hard. His play style is exactly what we want. He's had some proven ball production. There's a lot of things that go into those decisions. I feel good about a lot of those guys in the room. But he came out on top, and that's who we're going with right now.

Defensive line/running game coordinator Jerry Montgomery

On the run defense in Chicago:

Ultimately, the guys as a group played hard, played fast, played physical. Mistakes were still made, but we've got to stop the run, and if we can do that we've got a chance of getting after the quarterback with the guys we've got. So good start, but that's Week 1. Now we're playing a totally different team, totally different style of play, and they also run the ball quite a bit.

On the speed of the guys up front:

Really athletic group, just put it that way. As you guys could tell, they all played quite a bit, and that's the plan is to keep those guys fresh, keep them rolling. Mistakes are going to happen throughout the games, but when all 11 guys are flying around to the football, that's how you make up for it. So we're going to let these guys play, but athletically they're as athletic a group as we've had.

I love having them, they're fun to coach. I got a really good leader in the room in (number) 97 (Kenny Clark) that leads by example. He shows them how to work, he shows them how it's supposed to be done. It's really easy when you have a veteran like that, but ultimately, when those guys see him work and how he goes about his business … they're like, all right, this is how it's supposed to go. We've got to grow up fast and quick.

On Devonte Wyatt:

I think he's right where he needs to be. He's getting better. He wishes he had some snaps back in that game. He missed some opportunities, but he definitely was there to make them. Just keep pushing and working each day, and he's made some huge strides, so we just have to keep heading in that direction.

Pass rush specialist Jason Rebrovich

On Gary's return:

Obviously, RG is an unbelievable talent. We know that. It all starts with his work ethic. When you've got guys that have great work ethic, you're going to want to be around that person every single day. Whether he's on the practice field or he's in that training room or he's in the weight room with Gizz, everybody sees it. And when you can develop that around a team and you can utilize that as your standard, you're going to go some places, because people are going to buy into that person, and that is the epitome of RG.

On the depth/rotation at edge rusher, sharing the snaps:

I played hockey in high school a long time ago, and I see it as hockey shifts. Quick whistles, moving them in, moving them out, and the more you can utilize and keep the freshness of these guys … The great thing about it is they feel comfortable with each other, and that goes a long way. When you have a positive impact as a player and you can look to the guy next to you or beside you on the other side, and say yeah, I trust that man to go in to have an opportunity to make a play, or to make this team and defense better, and you can rely on guys like that, and you have that trust as a brotherhood, I think it's very easy moving guys in and out. To have that, it's huge. It's awesome. I'd take 10 more if I could.