Notebook: Mike McCarthy passes on defensive comparisons

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Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy gestures during training camp July 27, 2017.

GREEN BAY - Coach Mike McCarthy has no interest in making comparisons, no matter how much he — or players in the Green Bay Packers'  locker room — appreciate the defense they will face to start the season.

Mike Daniels, the Packers' defensive line leader, has made his admiration for the Seattle Seahawks' approach no secret this offseason. McCarthy admitted the Packers need to “take a big step” on defense, but stopped short of making any comparisons for his ideal blueprint.

“We don’t need to be like any other team,” McCarthy said. “We need to focus on the best Green Bay Packers defense with the proper attitude, energy, focus and so forth. You know comparables, I’m not into. Seattle’s got an excellent defense, and they’ve played great defense in this league for quite some time. So we need to take a big step in that area.”

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McCarthy said the Packers' defense “definitely improved” its tackling last season. He wants the unit to make more plays

“Our number of opportunities, takeaway opportunities, is clearly not where it needs to be,” McCarthy said, “and I think that speaks to the energy and the attitude and the aggressiveness of your defense. So we need to do a better job there.”

That’s not to confuse making big plays with being boisterous, McCarthy said. Attitude, he said, comes secondary to execution.

“When I look at my background and the way you grow up,” McCarthy said, “when you’re in competitive sports, I was more focused on the guy that wasn’t saying anything. I think when guys do say something, how they say it, when they say it, there’s a place for verbal interaction or excitement or energy. Definitely, it’s part of it, but that’s not going to make you a good defense.

“I mean, we jump up and down, scream and yell and say a bunch of bad words. I mean, it’s really what goes into it. They can scream and yell, they can not say anything, but when they cross the line it needs to show in our action and the tenacity in what they’re doing to the other guy.”

On the nose: Ricky Jean Francois is 6-3, 313 pounds, but he has not made his living lately as a nose tackle.

And he doesn’t intend to.

But Jean Francois has had to play the position some in the Packers’ defense and is willing to fill in when starter Kenny Clark and whoever his backup needs a break. At age 30, however, he’d like to preserve his body.

“I laugh about it to (defensive line coach) Mike (Trgovac) sometimes,” Jean Francois said. “I can play nose. I haven’t played it in a while. I still got it. You have to believe me, I can go in there and bang with the best of them.

“If they need it OK, but not on a regular basis.”

Francois was signed as a free agent because of his versatility and decent pass-rush ability. He can play end, nose tackle or three-technique and will be vying for some time rushing the passer on third downs.

With Letroy Guion suspended for the first four games, the Packers don’t have a true backup nose tackle. That job might have to be shared among a host of defensive linemen.

Second coming: The Packers have brought back one of their former offensive linemen, who often was described during his playing days as a "free spirit,” to replace Rob Davis as director of player engagement.

Grey Ruegamer, who played 11 seasons in the NFL, including three years (2003-05) with the Packers, was named to the position Monday. He won two Super Bowl rings, one with the New York Giants and one with the New England Patriots.

He was known for his practical jokes, dry humor and unusual stories, including one in which he claimed to have held a job on a Basque farm castrating lambs in a very unsavory manner. He maintained that he had been paid in beer.

After his NFL career ended, he served as an assistant coach at the University of Washington. He moved back to his home state of Montana and worked as a health and wellness coach.

Part of his new job will be helping Packers players acclimate themselves to the community, finish their education and prepare for life after football. Davis held the position for 10 seasons before departing during the offseason.



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