GREEN BAY — Jake Ryan trained this offseason with an emphasis on improving his speed and coverage ability in preparation for his second NFL season.
Already known as a willing tackler, the Packers linebacker has been active in defending both the run and the pass during the first two games of the season.
Ryan, a fourth-round pick out of Michigan in 2014, has 13 tackles and two pass deflections playing in the Packers’ base and nickel defenses. His coverage skills showed up against the Vikings when he broke up a second-quarter pass intended for tight end Kyle Rudolph.
“I thought his pass coverage against Minnesota was probably one of his better performances,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think he’s played some really good football for us.”
The Packers kept only three natural inside linebackers – Ryan, Blake Martinez and Joe Thomas – on their 53-man roster going into the season, but have given all three roles in the defense.
Coincidentally, Ryan is the most experienced of the three with 18 games played and nine career starts (including playoffs).
“Jake has clearly made big steps from last year,” McCarthy said. “I thought Jake and Blake made improvements from Week 1 to Week 2.”
On the injury front, McCarthy said linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) and safety Morgan Burnett (groin) had productive rehab sessions on Wednesday.
Linebacker Datone Jones is working through a knee injury. The team will see what he can do in Thursday’s pre-practice session. Cornerback Sam Shields remains in the concussion protocol.
The Packers still have a spot open on their 53-man roster, but McCarthy said that spot could be filled sometime on Wednesday.