GREEN BAY, Wis–
When the Packers invested $183 million dollars in free agency this offseason, most fans of the green and gold hadn’t heard a whole lot about offensive lineman Billy Turner, safety Adrian Amos, along with defensive lineman and pass rushing linebacker hybrids Preston Smith, and Za’Darius Smith. But they should know all of their names by the time training camp begins when all four of them are likely starters who set the tone of practice.
“They brought us here for a reason. To be leaders with this defense and that something we will continue to do.”
Za’Darius has the highest price tag with his four-year deal that’s worth reportedly $66 million dollars, with $34.5 million to be paid out over the first 2 years, including a $20 million signing bonus. And if money talks, and Za’Darius can walk the walk, it looks like it will be a contract that’s worth it. After holding court with the media last week, Smith addressed plenty of issues, including his versatility and ability to play anywhere on the defensive front seven.
“Just to be able to see it all upfront and be comfortable. Coaches know that’s something I like doing, being able to go inside in certain situations, and set the edge too, at the beginning on first and second down.
Smith has played in 58 games over the past 4 seasons and has 18 and half sacks during that time frame, with last year being the best season of his NFL career, and adjusting to Mike Pettine’s defense hasn’t been an issue.
“He knows every individual players strengths. I feel like we was just talking about, certain situations and kick a guy like me inside, so I feel like he’s doing a great job at it.”
Za’Darius also knows that he’s expected to fill big shoes while directing the defense, even though he’s coming from outside the organization. And when asked whether or not he wants to get the pads on sooner than later?
“Surely. Yes sir. I just think right now it’s getting the play book down, getting your technique right, and doing the little things right now in OTA’s, so when training camp gets here, that’s when it really gets physical”