Greene beginning to find his niche in Packers' defense

-- The further we venture into training camp, the more rounded it looks like the Green Bay Packers' safety group is starting to become.

Even after selecting Darnell Savage with their No. 21 overall pick in April and inking Adrian Amos to a deal in free agency a month prior, there's been some concern expressed over the depth behind the two projected starters.

But while Savage has been nursing himself to recovery after wisdom tooth surgery, opportunities have opened up during the Packers' first four practices of training camp. For someone like Raven Greene, that's all he could ask for: an opportunity.

"Raven was a guy last year who really started to come on," defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said on Monday. "He showed flashes in training camp a year ago and then had a not very good first preseason game. He'll be the first one to tell you he wishes he can have that one back.

"By the end of the preseason, he got it back together, made the team and was doing some really good things on special teams."

Greene, an undrafted free agent acquired by the Packers after last year's draft, played just 43 total snaps on defense in his rookie season. But it was the gradual improvements he made throughout the year -- even in limited reps -- that paved the way to earning more in year two.

A cog in Greene's ascension was an ankle injury he suffered later in the season, ultimately landing him on injured reserve.

"We're very pleased that he was very much ahead of the schedule rehab-wise in the spring, so he was able to take a lot more reps than we thought he would," Pettine said. "That's paid off for him. He showed up to camp with a ready-to-go mentality. It's just now a matter of mastering the physical piece."

It helped that he was able to carve out a role for himself on special teams. So far through camp, however, Greene's been taking advantage of his snaps on defense as a versatile defender, playing both in the box as a hybrid linebacker and as a prototype safety on the back end.

Greene's progression seemed even more crucial this offseason than it would have been after Josh Jones requested a trade in June. Jones, a 2017 second-round pick, was previously the Packers' go-to hybrid safety who thrived in the box as a linebacker. But Jones reported to camp and has since been participating.

But for Greene to continue earning snaps over Jones -- and keep it that way throughout the remainder of the summer -- he'll have to believe that he has the ability to do so.

"He's certainly a guy that has an NFL skill set. He's smart, he's tough; his biggest issue, and he'll tell you this too, is just the confidence. We just gotta convince him that you belong here. But he's one of those guys that you root for and we're hopeful that he can be a big part of what we do."

Greene's capability of playing multiple positions is on par with the theme of the Packers' defense; he's just one of the many versatile defenders who could see an increase in snaps this coming season. That's largely in part due to his keen awareness of his responsibility and intelligence in mastering the team's playbook.

"Raven is a smart football player," said head coach Matt LaFleur after Sunday's practice -- the first padded session of LaFleur's tenure. "It takes smart players to be able to do that, to be able to move around, change positions and understand what their responsibility is. And not only understand the responsibility, but the details of the play."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

4 points

Comments (15)

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Lare's picture

July 30, 2019 at 03:11 pm

The biggest ability is availability. You need to practice in order to play, at this point I assume Greene is ahead of Savage on the depth chart.

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jeepingmakooi's picture

July 30, 2019 at 03:14 pm

I would say that is a bad take... Day one of Savage being cleaned.. starter will be his.

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Coldworld's picture

July 30, 2019 at 04:10 pm

Agree. Having your wisdom teeth out is not a chronic condition.

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dobber's picture

July 30, 2019 at 06:11 pm

I have a student who just had her wisdom teeth out. She was essentially immobile for a week...it looked awful.

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Packer_Fan's picture

July 30, 2019 at 08:36 pm

I hope the best for Greene. And why did Savage have his wisdom teeth out just before camp. Should have been a month ago. What was he thinking? Or wait till the end of the season.

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Packers2020's picture

July 30, 2019 at 03:33 pm

Just because Savage is a #1 pick does not mean he will be a starter. He has to prove it on the field.

Wait until the preseason is over before we anoint the starters on defense and offense.

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Coldworld's picture

July 30, 2019 at 04:11 pm

The team has effectively already announced ...,

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jannes bjornson's picture

July 30, 2019 at 10:51 pm

With the number one unit all through OTAs. You don't shell out three picks to have to guy sit and compete with street free agents. He will excel as a FS.

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Lphill's picture

July 30, 2019 at 04:18 pm

I had all four of my wisdom teeth out didn’t miss work and had no pain , most important thing is taking antibiotics to prevent infection for 10 days, I would think Savage could practice maybe avoid a hit to the face, but I guess they are just being overly cautious.

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Coldworld's picture

July 30, 2019 at 05:18 pm

One would hope so. Don’t want a set back at this point.

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mamasboy's picture

July 30, 2019 at 05:35 pm

I had all four of mine taken out too. If they're impacted it's a different story. Eating was a chore for about a week for me. You may not have missed work, but you don't play pro football either.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 30, 2019 at 09:16 pm

I played a half game with a broken jaw. There’s no reason you need to miss a week with a tooth thing.

My boys went to the Air Force Academy and they strongly recommend having your wisdom teeth pulled well before basic training..

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Coldworld's picture

July 30, 2019 at 10:32 pm

That was then and you were probably not a valuable pro or in the off season. The world and sports economics have changed. We can debate whether that’s for the better, but is is true nevertheless.

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Fastenerpuller's picture

July 31, 2019 at 12:56 am

I’m as hyped as anyone about Savage, but it does seem like we’re placing a lot on a rookie at that position. What’s the learning curve for FS? Also, is it possible that Savage, even with his body type and speed, actually plays closer in as a robber? Only time will tell.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 31, 2019 at 01:32 am

Yes, it is a lot for a rookie.
HHCD played 941 snaps as a rookie.
GB needs Savage to be good.
Yeah, I think there is a learning curve.

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