The offseason strength and conditioning program began for many of the team's younger players on Monday, March 17, giving Packers.com a chance to catch up with a few guys to get their thoughts on the past season, next season, and what they've been up to in between.
Defensive end and special teams ace Jason Hunter improved on a productive rookie campaign in 2006 with an even better season in 2007. He led the team with 25 special teams tackles, the most in one season by a Packers player in 22 years. As a backup defensive end, he also had three tackles on defense, and his forced fumble on an Oakland punt return led to the Packers' second special teams touchdown that day.
Here's what Hunter had to say …
How does it feel to be back?
It feels real good. I got a chance to be at the crib in Charlotte, with the family, but it feels good to be back up here in this environment, going back to work.
Looking back, can you describe the emotions of losing the NFC Championship?
It was definitely hard, especially when you talk about it all year, getting to that point, and knowing we were one game away from achieving the goal we set out to do. It was definitely an emotional time. But we know we've got a lot to build off of this year to get back to that point and hopefully get past that, and get to the Super Bowl, and win that.
What did you do to help get over it, recover from it?
It was hard to get over it, because everywhere you turn, they kept recapping the game. They kept showing it on SportsCenter, and everybody kept talking about it. Whether you'd go to your local barber shop, or the mall or grocery store or wherever, people that know football and recognize that you play were always bringing that game up, saying 'Tough loss, tough loss.' Once the Super Bowl was over and then the Pro Bowl, football was settled a little bit, and you had time to let that pass and reflect on the good things you did during the year, but also keeping in mind what we want to accomplish this year.
How did it feel to see the Giants win the Super Bowl?
It felt real good to see. I was actually surprised, but I knew if they played the way they were capable of playing, they would go ahead and pull it out. The last game of the regular season, they gave the Patriots a really good game. I was happy to see the Giants, the underdogs, go all the way. They took that whole 'Road Warriors' thing and solidified themselves as a team of destiny.
What have you been up to during the offseason?
I've just been sitting at home, enjoying time with my family. I was able to take a three-day getaway, to go to Orlando, Florida, and enjoy Universal Studios. It was my brother's birthday, so I treated him to that. Other than that, it was pretty much rest and recover. Now it's time to get back to work.
What's been the biggest highlight for you since the season ended?
Just being able to not have a time schedule, not have anything regulated. I can come and go as I please, wake up whenever I please, just regulate myself. It was nice not to have a regimen.
If you had to grade yourself on your 2007 season, what grade would you give yourself?
I wouldn't really give myself a grade, I would just say I improved, but I still have a long way to go and there's a lot I want to accomplish. I think I improved on some things from my first season, and I'm looking forward to improving on things from my second year and get better for the future.
What do you think you need to do to improve?
I want to improve on my film study, being more efficient in the film room. And I also want to continue to improve my strength and quickness and speed. I'm looking forward to having a big year on special teams, but also I'm looking to have a bigger role on defense, whether it's playing specific downs or just being the rotation period. I'm looking to increase my role. That's what my mindset is for this offseason program.
What was your personal favorite moment of last season, on or off the field?
I would have to say the Panthers game, when I ran with Tramon Williams stride for stride (on the long punt return for a TD). I kind of was in his highlight, and everybody was making fun of it. 'You almost knocked him down,' or 'You were running on the wrong side of him. You were supposed to be on the inside, not the outside.' That was one of my all-time favorite moments from last year. And overall, just to see Brett play. For two years, that's been a highlight in itself. My first two years in the league, being here and playing with Brett Favre, being able to see him play and be around him, that's been a highlight in itself.
What are you most looking forward to in 2008?
I'm just looking for us to start strong and finish strong. A lot of things we want to accomplish are us being consistent as a team, and continuing to excel. This year of course is going to be a challenging year. All the teams pretty much know about the Green Bay Packers. We're not going to sneak up on anybody. Nobody is going to be surprised when they play us. Everybody is going to bring their 'A' game, so I'm looking for us to rise to the challenge. There's going to be some adversity, but I'm sure with the guys in the locker room, that we'll be able to overcome the adversity and the obstacles and rise to the occasion.