Thu, 22 Oct 2020

Former seventh-round draft pick filled in as signal-caller in a tough spot Mike Spofford

GREEN BAY - As excited as Ty Summers was to get his first defensive action for the Packers, he was equally annoyed with his mistakes Sunday night.

Chalk it up to the second-year inside linebacker's competitive personality, even if his wife is telling him to chill a little bit.

After reviewing the win at New Orleans in which he was thrown in to replace an injured Christian Kirksey (shoulder), Summers is hyper-focused on cleaning up his game and doing better should he get the call again.

"I have high expectations for myself, so, I would say, not great," Summers said Tuesday in rating his performance, which included a team-high nine tackles. "Thank goodness it was enough to help get a win and so at the end of the day, that's all that matters.

"But I'm just going to take things that I did right and the things that I did wrong, learn from 'em, and try to work towards perfection for this next week."

His wife apparently doesn't want him to be so hard on himself, telling him to "stop it" with all the harsh criticism and not "focus on the bad stuff."

Summers laughs about the back and forth at home, and by and large he deserves credit for responding in a tough spot. A seventh-round pick a year ago from TCU, Summers played only special teams as a rookie. He hadn't taken a defensive snap in a game since the 2019 preseason until he entered in the second quarter at the Superdome.

On top of that, he was wearing the communication helmet to relay the calls from defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to the rest of the huddle. It was a lot to process in the heat of battle, but he never felt overwhelmed, even going against a future Hall of Fame quarterback who "got drafted when I was like 4 years old." He said the fact that his key adversaries on the other side were Drew Brees and star running back Alvin Kamara didn't even set in on his first defensive series.

"It's time to go, you know," he said of his approach. "It's the stuff we practiced in practice. We've been over this. I didn't feel surprised, I didn't feel nervous. I've been looking forward to an opportunity like that my whole life, so it was pretty incredible. I was just like, 'All right. Here's a chance to show 'em what I've got. Let's go have fun.'"

The communication helmet was no biggie to him, either. He wore it during his rookie preseason action, and he has it on in practice to listen to Pettine's calls every day, so that part was just "hear the call, give the call." He also disputed the speculation on NBC's Sunday Night Football broadcast that Pettine was simplifying the calls and checks because he was in there.

The game itself had its good and bad moments, as Head Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday and Summers reiterated. He admitted to getting baited on a couple of the Saints' schemes, and his largest regret was failing to tackle Kamara on what turned into a 52-yard catch-and-run TD on which the Packers' defense missed five tackles in all.

"It's always the ones that I left out there and I know, especially that long one on Kamara, that could have really helped us there," he said. "That could have saved a score.

"I had a couple situations I took the cheese. Other than that I think overall coverage, we knew what was happening in the game plan. I had a clock going in my head, one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, and if I was on Kamara, I was just going to go get him because that's where the ball was going."

Most important, he finished strong, as did the Packers' defense as a whole. Following Za'Darius Smith's hit and fumble on the Saints' Taysom Hill for the game's only turnover in the fourth quarter, the defense got a three-and-out on its next series.

The sequence included two tackles of Kamara on first and third downs by Krys Barnes and Chandon Sullivan, respectively. In between, Summers wrapped up speedy receiver Deonte Harris in the open field for just a 2-yard gain that set up the third-and-5.

That's the type of play the unit as a whole and Summers individually want to take into the next game. LaFleur said Kirksey was still being evaluated, but no matter his status for next Monday's game against the Falcons, Summers is going to prepare to be the guy running the show in the middle of the defense again.

How much he focuses on the good vs. the bad as he moves forward, well, that could depend on whether he's watching film with his teammates and coaches, or with his wife.

"Especially when you're watching as a whole defense, you hate seeing a bad play up there and you know it was you," he said.

"All it takes is doing our job and securing tackles. That's something that obviously we can do. We showed it. We just need to be consistent at doing such."

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