One step closer?

Bigby solid against Jaguars, improves quest for starting safety spot

His name, Atari, so the Packers media guide tells us, "is Japanese for a form of the word ‘attack.'" Once again Saturday night, Atari Bigby went on the attack, taking another step toward securing the starting strong safety spot in the Green Bay Packers lineup.

Unlike the previous week against Seattle in which he sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble that resulted in a defensive touchdown for Green Bay, Bigby did not come up with any big plays against the Jaguars. Making his first start in place of Marquand Manuel, Bigby had four tackles in the first half.

Still, he did enough to again impress Coach Mike McCarthy. "I felt him out there," McCarthy said in his post-game news conference. "I thought he flew around and made some nice open-field or in-the-hole tackles. From what I saw I thought he did a nice job."

However, McCarthy stopped short of naming Bigby the starter for Opening Day against Philadelphia on Sept. 9. "Without watching the film with the defense I couldn't answer that right now," McCarthy said.

Asked to assess his own play, the personable Bigby exuded confidence.

"Tonight, I just took whatever they gave me," he said. "I didn't go out there and try to make any big plays. I didn't try to go out there and duplicate what happened last week. I didn't try to force anything. I went out there and did my job. I just keep whatever I've got to keep in front of me, tackle when I have to tackle and support when I have to support. So, it was ugly and it was simple. I think I did pretty good."

Tackling remains an area that Bigby continues to work very hard to improve. "I think I tackle well. Sometimes I just get overexcited and I try to kill the guy. What I've been working on is just letting it flow, letting it happen and just keep him on the ground. I'm not really trying to get the big hits."

The Packers like Bigby because he is a strong physical player with excellent speed and he has a knack for being around the ball and making plays. They also like the juice he brings on special teams, flying all over the field and not at all afraid to stick his nose into a scuffle if needed.

But his lack of experience still begs the question: Is he ready to make the right calls to set up the defense before the ball is snapped?

"I feel good (about that)," was his confident reply. "I don't know how to explain it but that I feel very good."

Bigby smiled when asked if he feels he's done enough to unseat Manuel. "I don't know what I'm going to be on the depth chart but I think I'm playing pretty good football right now."

Should Bigby get the starting nod, he and Nick Collins would provide Green Bay with a speedy, athletic tandem in the deep middle of the field, something they've lacked with Manuel.

"I feel great about our secondary," said Collins. "Last year was our first time getting together as a whole unit trying to learn a new defense. Now that we've been here a whole year, I think everybody's grasping the defense. We just go out there to play and have fun. M & M (Manuel), he's a great coach and a leader. Atari just comes out there and plays and he knows what to do. I just feed off both of them. They're both good guys and they know their stuff."

Collins added that he has confidence in Bigby, despite his relative lack of experience calling the defensive signals.

"He's pretty good. He's been here about two years. He knows the whole scheme of what we're trying to do. He gets the calls out and he makes the right checks so he's doing a very good job back there."

The Packers' first-team defense shut out the Jaguars, something Bigby points to as a good sign for the future.

"We had great assignments and we had good tackling," Bigby added. "With that, we can win a lot of games."

If Bigby continues to progress as he has, there's good reason to believe he'll have a huge role to play, as starting strong safety and a force on special teams.

Tom Andrews is a frequent contributor to Packer Report magazine and E-mail him at

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