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NFL Combine Interviews: Jordan Phillips discusses back issues, Packers' Jerry Montgomery

One candidate to improve the middle of the Packers' defense is tackle Jordan Phillips, who spoke at the Combine on Saturday about his new Green Bay connection.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma's Jordan Phillips is one of the most physically imposing players in the 2015 NFL Draft. At 6 feet, 5-1/4 inches tall and 329 pounds, Phillips is among the tallest and heaviest players in attendance, and projects as a top-tier defensive tackle.

The big question with Phillips is not size, technique, or ability - it's his back, as progressive back issues cost him most of his sophomore season in 2013. Phillips came back to play in all 13 games in his Junior year, but questions about his back's long-term prognosis have remained.

Phillips was quick to dismiss those concerns on Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine, saying "there's no problem with my back" and that he is "100%, ready to go." Pressed on the issue, he even admitted some frustration with the continued questions about the issues, saying "it was played up a lot. It's (become) bigger than what it is."

If Green Bay Packers medical staff check him out and give him the green light, he could be a very tempting player for Ted Thompson at the 30th pick, especially with B.J. Raji and Letroy Guion both having expiring contracts and going through issues of their own (Raji's recovery from a torn biceps and Guion's well-documented legal issues). There's an added connection here, though, that will feed into the Phillips-to-Green Bay narrative:

Jerry Montgomery.

The former Oklahoma defensive line coach is now in Green Bay as the team's "defensive front assistant," a fancy term for Dom Capers' right-hand man and primary schematic assistant. When on the topic of Montgomery's hiring in Green Bay, Phillips said he was "surprised, kinda. But I mean he deserved it."

As for Montgomery's attitude, Phillips says he doesn't come off as a coach to his players: "He's a coach, but he's a player. He's out there hooping and hollering with everybody, getting excited, jumping up and down, chest-bumping, talking like one of the guys." How much that attitude translates to his new job with the Packers remains to be seen, but the elevation of vocal, excitable coaches into high-ranking positions appears to be a bit of a trend in Green Bay; after all, Ron Zook, a similar high-energy personality, is now running the special teams.

Phillips is comfortable in any type of defensive scheme though, and has experience with different responsibilities on the defensive line. At Oklahoma, Phillips said that primarily he "was a one-gap, but I did a little two-gapping also. It doesn't matter, I can do both." He also would be a candidate to stay on the field on third downs as a pass-rusher, noting that he can "push the pocket well" and "can also beat you off the edge."

Reuniting with Montgomery in Green Bay would be a great idea, though, Phillips said: "He's a big brother to me, I love him ... I mean, we're a dynamic duo."

We'll find out in just over two months if that reunion will indeed take place.

On Sunday, Phillips recorded an official time of 5.17 seconds in the 40-yard dash, lifted 28 reps on the bench press, and posted jumps of 30 inches (vertical) and 8 feet, 9 inches (broad).