GREEN BAY, Wis. - Dean Lowry isn't about to rest on his laurels after signing a contract extension over the summer.
In fact, the Rockford, Ill. native said, the new paper only makes him hungrier.
"I think the new deal is great in that it shows the Packers believe in me as a player and they are committed to me," Lowry said. "But it's also no surprise that they expect me to step up, and I've got to go out there and produce. I would say I'm even hungrier now after the extension."
The Packers defensive line room looks significantly different than it did a year ago. Gone are veterans like Muhammad Wilkerson and Mike Daniels, while a few newcomers and younger players are expected to handle significant roles.
"I think it's been really good so far," Lowry said. "We've got guys like me and Kenny Clark who have played a lot of snaps. And guys like Montravius Adams and Keke Kingsley that are young but have a lot of talent. I think it shows that we are really strong from top to bottom. We are a versatile and athletic group."
While the Packers have been known as an offense-first team, it's been the defense with the addition of three high-profile free-agent signings and a pair of first-round draft picks, that has garnered buzz this camp.
"So far in training camp, our defense has played really well against the offense," Lowry said. "I think some of that is expected, because they are learning a new system and this is our second year in it. Last year, we were just trying to get lined up right,. This year, we are playing more fast and physical. We're a very ball-aware defense, and that showed up in the first preseason game when we created turnovers for our offense."
Lowry now finds himself as one of the defense's longest-tenured players, which by default places him into a leadership role.
"I think the off-the-field stuff is really important," Lowry said. "Anytime you're a veteran, that means you've studied the game for a lot longer than some of the younger guys. So when you see something in a formation or tendency, you've got to point that out. We're only as strong as our weakest link, so we're trying to get everybody on the same page."
The next two preseason games will give some indication as to just how close the Packers are to the elite defense they are striving to become.
Only two starters were on the field for Thursday's opener, which will change dramatically this Thursday at Baltimore.
"These next two weeks are vital," Lowry said. "Baltimore has a really good offense, and Lamar Jackson scrambles around just like Mitch Trubisky does, who we'll face in the first week. It's a big offensive line, too, so we're excited. It was tough not being out there Thursday, but we'll be ready to go for our first game action Thursday."
While Lowry's contract extension made for big news in his hometown over the summer, the story paled in comparison to what Rockford Auburn graduate Fred Van Vleet's journey did for the city.
Van Vleet helped the Raptors to an NBA title, playing a vital role off the bench.
"It was so cool to see," Lowry said. "I went to a few of the games he played in Milwaukee. You look at his whole career, and he's always stepped it up in big games. To see that, it really inspired me also to play on the biggest stage, and be a great person on and off the field."