Early on Wednesday morning, shocking news broke that the Green Bay Packers were releasing defensive tackle Mike Daniels on the day that players report for training camp. A few short hours later, head coach Matt LaFleur went up to the podium to address the media for a scheduled press conference and, predictably, he was asked about the transaction.
LaFleur began by complimenting the departed Daniels, saying that he has “meant a lot to this community, a lot to this football team” before adding “I still think he’s a really good player.” However, LaFleur immediately moved on, saying “we feel really good about the group that we have” and listing the names of nearly every lineman on the roster. He then was careful to point out Rashan Gary and Za’Darius Smith as versatile players who can play inside, saying that all together “we feel like we have a group in place that can get the job done.”
The move is a difficult pill for many Packers fans to swallow, and it was clearly a challenging decision for the team as well. “Unfortunately that’s part of this business, there’s tough decisions that you have to make,” LaFleur said. However, he emphasized that he and general manager Brian Gutekunst communicate daily, adding that “there’s never a decision that’s made that is a surprise to me.”
As for the start of training camp, LaFleur deferred when discussing whether there would be any players sitting out Thursday’s opening practice. One player he did address, however, is rookie safety Darnell Savage, who was placed on the Non-Football Illness list on Monday when he reported for camp. Savage is recovering from having his wisdom teeth extracted, but LaFleur sounded optimistic. “We’re anticipating him to be going tomorrow,” LaFleur said, “(but) that’s kind of a day-by-day thing to see how he feels.”
LaFleur also addressed the other defensive lineman in the news recently: Dean Lowry, who just received a three-year contract extension. “It’s always good when you can get a guy in here and you can reward him,” LaFleur said of the fourth-year pro. “He’s a team guy, he gives great effort every day, he’s reliable, he’s accountable, I love the energy he brings to the defense.”
Gutekunst is scheduled to speak to the media later this afternoon, likely following the Packers’ shareholders meeting. Stay tuned to APC for more updates.