Darnell Savage Jr. seemed genuinely surprised Wednesday afternoon when he was told about a recent opponent’s allegation against him of a “cheap shot” that spun out of last Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.
The Green Bay Packers rookie safety delivered a hit to Redskins running back Derrius Guice during Sunday’s 20-15 win at the end of a long run, one that left Guice with a sprained left MCL and effectively ended his season after Washington put him on the injured reserve list Tuesday. It continues an injury-riddled career for the second-year rusher, who was sidelined nine games earlier this season with a torn meniscus and missed his entire rookie year with a torn ACL he sustained in the 2018 preseason opener.
Rather than let the saga end, though, Guice took to Twitter on Tuesday to respond to a fan who had called the play a cheap shot and said Savage should have tried tackling him at the ankles. Guice confirmed he also believed the play was dirty, tweeting: “I think it was a cheap shot!! He knows the history of my knee injuries and went straight at them…”
“He said that?” Savage asked when reporters showed him a screenshot of the tweet, according to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman. “I’m not a dirty player. In my career, I’ve never done anything to hurt somebody. It’s unfortunate it happened. I actually told a couple of my teammates, ‘Man, I hope he’s good’ after that play happened. But if he feels that way, it is what it is.”
Savage, who was picked No. 21 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, has made an immediate impact as a rookie starting the Packers secondary despite missing two games with an ankle injury. He has two interceptions and two forced fumbles to go along with 47 tackles as a complement to free-agent addition Adrian Amos.
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Savage Looks to Amos as a ‘Big Brother’
Savage and Amos are both new this season to the Packers locker room with one coming into the game from college and the other arriving on a big contract after playing his past several seasons with the Chicago Bears. The two safeties have lockers right next to one another, making it even easier for the rookie to ask him questions whenever they come up.
“Just taking that big brother role to me,” Savage said Wednesday of Amos’ leadership. “Half the time, I don’t even have to say anything or ask him anything. I can just watch him and take notes off of that, just being observant. He’s meant a lot to me. … His house is always open to me, all that kind of stuff. He’s just been a great role model and leader.”
Frankly, the Packers couldn’t have hoped for a much better situation when it comes to pairing their first-year talent with a veteran. Amos has been a model of consistency even at times when the rest of the defense has struggled, coming up with another pivotal interception during last week’s win over the Redskins. He also picked off former Bears teammate Mitchell Trubisky in Week 1 that helped ensure the Packers a 10-3 victory.
The success and guidance of Amos have helped afford Savage his own opportunities to showcase what he can bring the Packers defense, including speed that gives him the look of a player who has been in the league longer than 13 games. Just take a look at how quickly he makes his read and administers a hit on his forced fumble in last Sunday’s win.
“I think I’ve improved in all aspects, my approach to the game,” Savage said in evaluating his growth. “I kind of have a routine now. Once you kind of settle in, everything is a lot smoother.”