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Packers strong safety Adrian Amos (31) reacts after intercepting a pass against the Bears in the regular-season finale.

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GREEN BAY — Adrian Amos will talk your ear off about how far the Green Bay Packers defense has come this season, how the group has grown after last year’s ignominious playoff exit, how much more comfortable everyone had become with coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme as the regular season came to an end and the playoff got underway.

The veteran safety will gladly brag about how his protégé, second-year safety Darnell Savage has developed, or explain how the defense has overcome the inherent challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented to building team camaraderie, or share how the team feels entering Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field.

Just don’t ask him about his least-favorite subject of public discourse: Himself.

“I don’t really describe myself too much. You can let my peers, my teammates describe me and my personality and everything like that,” Amos said sheepishly during the Packers’ playoff bye week, a perk the team earned with its 13-3 regular-season record and No. 1 seed.

“I want to show up and I want to do my job. I want to be accountable. When I go and watch the film later after the games, I want to be accountable. I don’t want to be the reason that this touchdown happened, I don’t want to be the reason they got this first down. Because I feel like I’m hanging my teammate out to dry. So that’s what I really try to take pride in, is doing my job and being accountable.”

During the regular season, Amos played at a level he can definitely be proud of — and elevated his game late in the year, setting the stage for playing a crucial role in what the Packers hope will be a playoff run that ends in a Super Bowl LV title on Feb. 7 in Tampa, Florida.

For starters, no one showed up for work on defense more often than Amos, who started all 16 games and played 1,008 defensive snaps — meaning he was on the field for 98.2% of the plays. He played every snap in 13 of those 16 games, and no one on defense was even a close second, as the next-closest was cornerback Jaire Alexander, who played 87.6%.

Amos finished regular-season play having led the Packers in tackles with (83) while registering two interceptions, two sacks and nine pass breakups. He finished sixth in The Associated Press All-Pro voting, garnering six votes to finish behind first-team picks Tyrann Mathieu, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Budda Baker and second-teamers Jamal Adams and Jessie Bates.

The analytics site Pro Football Focus, meanwhile, picked Amos as one of their first-team All-Pro safeties.

“Adrian’s a veteran presence that, from a prep standpoint, I know has helped Darnell. These are the types of guys you love to coach,” Pettine said last week. “They’re passionate, you can tell they love football, they ask great questions, they want to be great and they want to do everything they can to help us win.

“Fortunately, it’s a great example of guys that have great preparation habits, great practice habits, do everything they’re supposed to do off the field, and we get positive results on the field.”

While Pettine likes to use his two safeties interchangeably, Amos has been the surer tackler against the run while also being able to cover downfield. During the second half of the season after hybrid safety/linebacker Raven Greene was lost to injury, Pettine started using Amos not only in his traditional safety roles but also bringing him down to cover slot receivers and tight ends in that hybrid role, and it paid off: Six of Amos’ nine pass break-ups came in the final five games, including three in the Packers’ Dec. 19 win over Carolina. He also had 28 tackles and an interception during the final four games.

“I think Amos is getting really comfortable in his linebacker/safety spot,” nose tackle Kenny Clark observed. “Everybody is getting comfortable and everybody is understanding how to fit in the run game (and) we’re swarming to the ball, all 11 guys. That’s how you become a great defense. I don’t think we’re great yet, but we’re definitely trending in the right direction and getting better.”

That’s how Amos sees the Packers defense trending, too — and that seems to matter more to him than his own statistical contributions.

“Along with the rest of the defense, I just feel like I’m getting better week to week, feeling more comfortable,” Amos said. “I feel like I’m playing faster than I was earlier in the year. I’m being moved around a lot, which I like. And I just think we all affect each other. When we’re playing well, you help the man next to you. When I’m making quick reads, I allow the guy next to me to make a faster read as well. So when we’re all working together, it makes it fun. We just have to continue to grow and work together and I feel like we can be a special defense.”

Veldheer returns

Needing help with their offensive line depth in the wake of five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari’s Dec. 31 season-ending knee injury, a source confirmed Monday evening that the Packers had agreed to terms on a deal with Jared Veldheer, who spent last season with the team and had been in retirement before joining the Indianapolis Colts last week and starting at left tackle for them in their AFC wild card loss at Buffalo on Saturday.

Without Bakhtiari, the Packers started Billy Turner at left tackle and former University of Wisconsin lineman Ricky Wagner at right tackle in the regular-season finale at Chicago, but Wagner has been gutting it out through injuries for much of the season and has been battling a pair of knee injuries during the past month. With limited depth behind Turner and Wagner, the Packers probably would have been happy to add Veldheer in the immediate aftermath of Bakhtiari’s injury — if Veldheer hadn’t signed with the Colts practice squad only a matter of hours before Bakhtiari went down in practice.

The Packers likely signed Veldheer as an insurance policy to be their third tackle behind Turner and Wagner for Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Rams. If Veldheer does play, he’d become the first player in NFL history to play for two teams in the same postseason.

The 6-8, 322-pound Veldheer joined the Packers last November after sitting out most of the 2019 season after retiring from the New England Patriots. He ended up being a godsend when veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga suffered a concussion in the Packers’ regular-season finale at Detroit and again when Bulaga fell ill before their NFC Divisional Playoff win over Seattle. Veldheer took over early against the Lions and played well, then started on a moment’s notice when Bulaga wasn’t able to go against the Seahawks after taking part in warm-ups.

The 33-year-old Veldheer hadn’t played a snap of football since that game — until Saturday with the Colts.

“It’s funny how life is sometimes,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said last January after Veldheer’s performance against Seattle. ““Jared stepped in and did a great job, he really did. We’re really happy to have him and he’s been really good for us.” 


Photos: Packers' 2020 season so far in pictures

This article originally ran on madison.com.

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