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Packers DC: 'What a gift' to face Aaron Rodgers in camp

If the Packers plan to mine their way into January play, Green Bay's defense will be asked to handle a tall task.

Over the course of five weeks, the unit will square off against a trio of top-tier quarterbacks -- Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan -- with additional tilts against Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins and the imposing combination of Jared Goff and Rams coach Sean McVay.

Good thing they practice daily against one of the greatest passers to walk on terra firma in Aaron Rodgers.

"What a gift we have on defense to be able to go against one of the most elite quarterbacks to ever play the game," newly anointed defensive coordinator Mike Pettine told reporters, per ESPN's Rob Demovsky.

"You talk about wearing ankle weights, that's a tremendous thing for us and for us to have that success, it's a challenge for him. He's not going against the same defense that he had gone against and maybe he got used to over years and years and years that he figured out," Pettine said. "He's still trying to figure us out, and there's that element. I just love the competition part of it. It's great when our guys can make a play, and I think that from the beginning of camp that's the bottom line, we've had some great competition."

To Pettine's point, Rodgers has encountered a new beast in this year's camp, far different from the weather-worn scheme plopped onto the field each summer by dispatched coordinator Dom Capers.

"Well they're just so multiple; they have a lot of different pressures and types of pressures," Rodgers recently said of Pettine's group. "This may sound -- I don't know how it's going to sound. They're giving you pressures where they can actually get home. We haven't had that issue in a while, where they scheme up pressures to have a free guy on the play."

Pettine has received high marks from players and coach Mike McCarthy, who would like the Packers to fare differently against the game's top passers. Per Demovsky, Green Bay has won just four of 13 games against Brady, Wilson, Ryan, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger in recent years.

With Rodgers testing the defense daily -- and this new-look scheme pushing the offense -- it amounts to a fresh start for Green Bay.

"It's been great," Pettine said this offseason. "But obviously here we're still in the honeymoon phase. We haven't given up a yard or a point, so it's all good."

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