Rashan Gary envisions teaming with Smiths to provide mobile pass rush
GREEN BAY - If he plays as well as he did during Green Bay Packers training camp, 2019 first-round pick Rashan Gary is going to find himself in the company of outside linebackers Za’Darius and Preston Smith quite a bit this year.
Gary was a non-factor last season and logged only 245 snaps.
But given the advancements he has seemed to make in his pass-rushing ability, there’s potential for the three linebackers to be a force this season. Gary has given it plenty of thought, but he’s not saying much about it.
“I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't think about it all the time,” Gary said of what the trio could do together. “But I'm going to let that be itself. Y'all going to see all three of us on the field, and y'all going to see how much havoc we bring. I don't want to really talk about it.”
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith said if he can keep Gary playing the way he has in camp, having three mobile pass rushers on the field together will be a huge advantage for the defense.
“Some of these teams only have one pass rusher,” Smith said. “It’s easy to take out one. When you start getting multiple ones, now you're getting one on each side, that's tough. Then you add one that's inside as well, you can't double everybody.
“And you're going to get your one-on-ones. Somebody is going to get your one-on-ones, and that's what you want.”
In their final practice before Week 1, coach Matt LaFleur took his team inside Lambeau Field on Friday.
It wasn’t a surprise the Packers added another practice inside Lambeau Field. Following the team’s scrimmage Sunday, LaFleur said he might get back inside the stadium so his players could become better accustomed to the piped-in noise.
LaFleur said the NFL finally told teams how loud the piped-in noise would be, allowing him to set the noise volume just right.
“I wanted to give our guys an opportunity to know exactly what the 70 decibels was going to be,” LaFleur said, “when we go to play the Vikings. So I just wanted to get them in that environment once again.”
Wait and see
Injured right tackle Billy Turner (knee) took a small step toward being ready for the season opener when he did some short pass sets on the sideline before practice.
Turner has four days to rehab before the Packers begin intensive work for the Vikings on Wednesday and it’s conceivable he could play without having any practice time during the week. But it might also be smart just to let him heal the first week so he doesn’t carry the injury well into the season.
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Because veteran right tackle Rick Wagner is nursing an elbow injury — although he did practice Friday — he’s a question mark, too.
LaFleur said he’s considering all options, including playing his most athletic lineman — left guard Elgton Jenkins — at right tackle. Another option would be to bump right guard Lane Taylor out to right tackle since Taylor has played some tackle for the Packers.
“I think we’re looking at every combination to potentially (play),” LaFleur said. “The goal is to always get your best five out there to give you the best chance to win. So, we’ll look at everything.”
There were no new injuries to report based on practice attendance.
In addition to Turner, safety Raven Greene (undisclosed), cornerback Kabion Ento (foot), cornerback Will Sunderland (undisclosed), linebacker Kamal Martin (knee), linebacker Randy Ramsey (undisclosed), defensive end Montravius Adams (foot) and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester (undisclosed) were out.
It's a snap for Hanson
For four seasons, Jake Hanson snapped the football in an Oregon offense that only lined up one way: shotgun.
Each play, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert would stand a few yards behind Hanson, catching the snap upon request. If that presented a transition for Herbert, the sixth overall pick in the draft by the Los Angeles Chargers, the same is true for Packers sixth-round pick Hanson.
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Coach Matt Lafleur will allow for some shotgun snaps, but his preference on many plays is for the quarterback to be under center. Hanson said he feels he’s transitioned well to having a quarterback take snaps directly behind him.
“Going from college,” Hanson said, “where I never took an under-center snap, to taking probably half and half, it’s been a bit of an adjustment, but I’ve actually enjoyed it. I think it’s a nice change of pace, having the quarterback under center, not having to always aim the shotgun snaps in the run game. So I think it’s been a good adjustment.”
Without aiming snaps on run downs, Hanson has less to think about before the play. In theory, it could help him fire off the line of scrimmage with more force, helpful for downhill blocks.
That doesn’t mean adjusting to under-center snaps is easy. There’s a timing element Hanson said is the biggest adjustment to make.
“Just knowing when to start the snap on the cadence,” Hanson said, “and just getting comfortable with different quarterbacks. I think that’s the biggest thing, timing.”