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Packers have an appetite for more 'Snacks' Harrison to stiffen run defense

Tom Silverstein
Packers News

GREEN BAY – When the Green Bay Packers next take the field, there’s a good chance nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison will be on it more than the 12 snaps he played in his season debut Sunday.

“He’s definitely somebody that we want to get in there much more because I think he can provide a lot of value to us,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “I mean, the guy got here on Wednesday or whenever it was playing on a game on Sunday. So, I would look for him to get more snaps.”

Claimed off waivers from Seattle last week, Harrison had two days of practice and a walk-through to learn coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme. Nevertheless, he showed some of the disruptive ability the Packers hoped he had left playing strictly at the nose tackle position.

The 6-3, 340-pound Harrison helped blow up two running plays against the Bears, but he did not make any tackles or register any other stats. Because Harrison had such little time to prepare, Pettine limited him to snaps at nose tackle, but in the playoffs, he may put Harrison and Kenny Clark together and have them play either nose tackle or three-technique (defensive tackle).

Packers defensive lineman Damon Harrison (98) looks to get a call against the Bears during their game Sunday.

It might be a way to help Clark get away from the frequent double-team blocks he receives.

“It's something that depends on what front we are playing,” Pettine said. “But certainly, they can play both those spots. We've started Damon out as essentially as the nose and just let them learn that. But typically, how we play blocks, whether at the nose or at the three-tech, there's a lot of similarity.

“So, I do think it's nice that we can give Kenny a break from the nose and kick him out to the three or just give Kenny a break in general.”

Though he is a 32-year-old veteran with lots of experience, Harrison is being asked to play techniques that are foreign to him.

The Packers ask their defensive linemen to use their hands a lot more than some teams and their scheme is different from what Harrison played in Seattle, Detroit and New York. Harrison will have two practices this week and three next week to work on it.

“Here's a guy that's an ultimate pro,” Pettine said. “He's very conscientious and he knows that we play blocks a little bit differently than how he's used to.

“So, that's a habit. He trained to do something, it's muscle memory. So, he's a little frustrated with it but you can tell, this is a conscientious guy that wants to not just do his job but excel at it. So, we're thrilled he's here.”

Phones not ringing

As other teams scramble to fill vacant head-coaching and general manager positions, there haven’t been any reports of Packers employees being courted.

Not all interview requests are immediately made public, but so far it has been quiet.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is one coach who would like to run his own team, but he said he has focused on the playoffs and whatever comes his way, he’ll deal with it then.

“It’s just been incredible turning back and looking at all those things and becoming the person I am from growing up in this profession to all the different experiences to now being with coach LaFleur in this great organization,” Hackett said. “I think being with a great quarterback, great players, great people, you take so much from all those people and you just continually learn from all that and grow from that.

“At this point in my life, I love exactly where I am. This is an amazing place. For the future, you never know.”

Tighter coverage

Pettine echoed some of the desire for more bump coverage that LaFleur expressed Monday and said he had a discussion with the players about it.

There were some third-and-short situations where the cornerbacks played off the receiver and couldn’t make their way back in time when the ball was thrown right to the first-down marker. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the corners started playing tighter and the results were much better, including a fourth-down breakup by Chandon Sullivan.

“We have to have better situational awareness,” Pettine said. “The corners, depending on the call, if they have deep responsibility, whether it's man or whether it's three-deep or quarters, they do have some options on how to play it.

“A lot of it's based on how wide is the receiver split? Typically, if a receiver's in tight, you're not going to want to play as much press when he's close to the formation, whereas if they get out in a normal spacing.”

Pettine said it’s not about playing one type of coverage all the time. It’s about reading the situation and trying to vary coverages so the receivers and quarterback can’t zero in on what the corners are playing.

“We want to mix it up,” Pettine said. “We want to play some off, we want to play some press and then we want to show press and be able to play off because I don't think you can give an offense any one steady diet of anything cause they'll hone in on it.

“But situationally, we have to better understanding that we can't give easy throws.”