GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers training camp starts on July 27, with the first practice on July 28. Our Training Camp Countdown series continues with the 10th of our positional previews, the safeties.
Packers Safety Depth Chart Quick Reads
Adrian Amos: Amos strung together a series of excellent performances that ran in parallel with Green Bay’s late-season rise on defense. While he wasn’t selected for the Pro Bowl or voted to the AP’s official All-Pro team, he was named All-Pro by Pro Football Focus. In the first eight games, Amos had zero interceptions, one pass defensed and eight missed tackles. In the final eight games, he had two interceptions, eight passes defensed and one missed tackle. Playing a defense-high 1,008 snaps, Amos was first with 83 tackles, second with two interceptions, third with nine passes defensed and fourth with five tackles for losses. He added another interception in the playoffs.
Darnell Savage: It was a similar tale of two seasons for Savage. Through the Week 8 loss to Minnesota, Savage had merely one pass breakup in his first six games. It was a different story the rest of the season, though. In his final nine games, he recorded four interceptions and 11 passes defensed. In 15 games, he finished fourth on the team with 75 tackles, first with four interceptions and second with 12 passes defensed. Critically given his role as the last line of defense, his missed-tackle rate from 18.8 percent in 2019 to 11.9 percent in 2020, according to Sports Info Solutions.
Will Redmond: For the second consecutive season, Redmond played in 13 games. He played 340 snaps and contributed 24 tackles, two quarterback hits and one pass defensed. Plus, he logged 238 snaps on special teams and chipped in four tackles. He’s been one of the worst tacklers in the NFL, though, when inserted into the defensive lineup. Using PFF’s numbers, Redmond had nine misses and 19 tackles while Amos had nine misses and 68 tackles. The Packers brought him back with a no-obligations one-year contract.
Vernon Scott: A seventh-round pick last year, Scott didn’t play often as a rookie but he flashed some intriguing promise. Scott played in 15 games and logged 89 snaps from scrimmage and 184 on special teams. On defense, he tallied seven tackles, one sack and two tackles for losses. The sack came in Week 2 against Detroit and the additional TFL came on a third-down play at Houston that forced a field goal. On special teams, he contributed six tackles.
Henry Black: An undrafted free agent who opened the season on the practice squad, “Jackpot” Black wound up playing in eight games between gameday roster elevations and a 53-man promotion. In his NFL debut, his jarring hit of Houston running back David Johnson produced a fumble. Playing 112 snaps on special teams, he finished fourth on the team with seven tackles in the regular season. In the playoffs, he led the team with four special-teams stops, including three vs. the Rams.
Christian Uphoff: Uphoff went into 2020 hoping to parlay a strong senior season into a Jeremy Chinn-style rise up NFL draft boards. Instead, COVID struck and the FCS fall football season was canceled. Thus, he was unable to build upon a strong sophomore (26.1-yard average as a kickoff returner) and junior season (two interceptions and 19 passes defensed as a first-time starter). A standout at the Senior Bowl, he went undrafted due to a poor workout impacted by horrible weather and an injured hamstring.
Innis Gaines: A teammate of Scott at TCU, Gaines recorded 104 tackles, including four sacks and 15 for losses, plus chipped in three interceptions, 13 passes defensed and three forced fumbles in 38 games. After missing the end of his junior and senior seasons due to injuries, Gaines went undrafted and unsigned in 2020. The Packers inked him to a futures contract in January.
Big Story Lines at Safety
One: After an inconsistent rookie season as a first-round pick in 2019, Savage took a huge leap during the second half of his second season. He really seemed to thrive when put in attack mode by former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Can he take the next step and become an elite defender, whether it’s in a similar role as last season or if he’s given a shot in the slot? Notably, he allowed deep completions against Chicago, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay in the final three games of the season.
“Playing DB, it’s a tough position,” Savage said. “You’ve got to do your job, at the end of the day, and you can only make the plays that come to you. I don’t think I really changed anything or did anything different. Just more opportunity and more plays that came my way, and I happened to make most of them.”
Two: With the big-play potential of Savage and the understatedly steady play provided by Amos, could the Packers have the best safety duo in the NFL? That might have been the case over the second half of last season. If defensive tackle Kenny Clark returns to form, if the outside linebackers deliver as expected, if a corner steps up alongside Jaire Alexander, and if Amos and Savage continue to do their thing, this could be a superb defense.
“I like to be able to show my versatility and be able to get in the box, be able to play deep,” Amos said last year. “I like to be able to play all over. But, of course, I think a lot of people like to be closer to the ball. I like being close to the ball, just because that’s where there the ball is and you have the opportunity to make more plays. Anywhere I can help the team, playing in the box or covering or playing deep, I like that. It’s good that we have a lot of DBs that have played multiple things, so offenses don’t get a bead on what position we’re actually playing.”
Three: To perhaps oversimplify, it could be Redmond vs. Scott for the No. 3 safety role. Redmond is a known commodity. He can do a bit of everything in the secondary, and that’s important with 46-man gameday rosters. However, his poor tackling and lack of playmaking – he could have changed the NFC Championship Game with a first-half interception of Tom Brady – show the limitations. Scott is a physical presence but largely unproven. The ceiling is higher. This will be a big camp for him. If he can cover on the back end, he could emerge with a critical role as a sixth defensive back.
Four: Who, if anyone, will survive in the group of Black, Uphoff and Gaines? Black provided some excellent production on special teams as a rookie. He could be a centerpiece for new coordinator Maurice Drayton. At 6-foot-2 and 209 pounds, Uphoff brings legit size and athleticism to the party. Gaines has some versatility. He made one of the great plays of minicamp by running stride for stride with Allen Lazard and breaking up a deep pass.
“He’s a big safety that can run, he’s physical, he’s going to be an immediate special teams guy,” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy said of Uphoff. “For an undrafted free agent, I think that he’s a make-it guy in the league. He’s going to make somebody’s club. There’s just not a lot of guys his size that will run and hit and can play on special teams. That was a heck of an undrafted free agent signing. I thought he would go in the middle half of Day 3.”
Safety Darnell Savage Says
On the change in coordinators from Mike Pettine to Joe Barry
“I think it’ll be fairly easy just for the simple fact that we’ve got a lot of guys in our room that are committed and smart, and we work well together, so we know how to communicate with each other and stuff like that. Obviously, every defense or offense that has a new coach or whatever, you know it’s going to be different. But really, at the end of the day it’s all just football. It’s just terminology and being on the same page with communication and stuff like that. I feel like we’ll have a pretty good grip on that.”
Countdown to Packers Training Camp
Packers OT Nijman Put Athletic Gifts Together in Training Camp
Note: This feature was published on Aug. 24 and was updated on Sept. 24 with the possibility Yosh Nijman will start at left tackle for the Week 3 game against San Francisco on Sunday.