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Letters To LeRoy Butler


LeRoy, Thank you for all the great memories!! You were a true professional and a great Green Bay Packer. Having now played four games as a Packer, could you please break down safety Mark Roman's play so far. Has he been an upgrade over Antuan Edwards and Marques Anderson? Thank you. - Steve Schmadl (Cudahy, WI)

Yes, I think he's been an upgrade, for the simple fact that he's a proven veteran and he has come up with a couple of big plays. I just feel more secure with him being back there. The defense runs a lot smoother when he's back there.

I think he would tell you that he should have made a few more plays in the secondary, but he's doing a good job as the quarterback of the secondary right now with Darren Sharper being moved around to make more plays.

He is an upgrade at that position and I feel very comfortable with him back there.

The Packers aren't the only playoff caliber team to be hit hard by injury. How hard is it for a playoff caliber team not to become discouraged when injury has hit them this early in the year? - Laura (Milwaukee, WI)

It's difficult. If you look back at 2001 when we played Atlanta in Lambeau Field and I got hurt, we were in the top five in defense and we haven't been back there since.

Injuries play a big part in who goes to the playoffs, who becomes the elite teams, and who goes to the Super Bowl. That's why New England has been able to continue their winning because they have been able to keep their guys healthy.

Also, the mark of a good team is that when injuries do occur, the replacement players must be ready to step in and not lose a step. In the past, in the mid '90s, we never had a problem with injuries, but they are a part of the game.

Hey, Mr. Butler. Few questions for you: first of all, it seems like Robert Ferguson was more of a "go to" guy last year. I remember the Eagles playoff game (last year), and he had the first two TDs. Why do we not see him being used as much? Secondly, that was a nice pass at the end of the game. Does Craig Nall have the capacity to replace Favre after Brett's retirement? Thanks, and go Pack! - Joey (Cedar Falls, IA)

Ferguson has proven that he's not only a potential Pro Bowler on special teams, but he's also a potential great wide receiver. Right now, with the emergence of Javon Walker, he's being very patient.

He's still a vital part of what the Packers want to do on offense because he's hard to jam on the line of scrimmage and he's a bigger receiver for some of the defensive backs to have to match up with.

I suspect you'll see Fergie making a lot of big plays - maybe having one of those 10-catch games - coming up. They have not forgotten about him, it's just that in the West Coast offense, the ball is always spread around, and there are a lot of weapons on this team.

As far as Craig Nall, he's a big quarterback who has been in this system for a couple of years now. He understands the offense and I think he'll be able to go in there and give the Packers what they need if he's called on to do so.

I think given the opportunity, he has the potential to be Brett's successor if he's willing to stick around for a few years. He is a quarterback of the future, and I'm excited to see what he can bring to the team.

Hi Mr. Butler, Do you feel that this defense lacks leadership? The players just don't seem to be fired up for games. Do they need someone to step up and be a clear leader like yourself or Reggie White used to be? - Ryan (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Nowadays, with so many young guys coming in from college, those guys are used to getting fired up by one or two seniors in the locker room. When you're in the pros, you have to be self-motivated. Sometimes you don't need a guy to rah-rah you or to pat you on the butt to get you going.

It's always good to have a leader when you have some tough losses to go into the locker room and speak to the media when a lot of guys won't.

I think there is leadership on this Packers team, but they aren't always to most vocal leaders. A lot of the guys in the locker room lead by example. I say, the more leaders the better.

Hi LeRoy, The one glaring difference I've noticed between the Packers only win and their three losses is the absence of Grady Jackson on defense. After his injury the packers have been plagued by poor run defense. Does Grady Jackson really make that big of a difference defensively or is there more to it? Thanks LeRoy! - Matt (San Francisco, CA)

He makes a big difference because he commands two guys to block him. The one player that probably misses Grady Jackson the most is Nick Barnett.

When Grady's in there, the offense has to use two players to block him, leaving Barnett freer to run to the ball and make plays. Without Grady, there really hasn't been anyone to command a double-team and Barnett has been facing more players keying on him with a single player assigned to block him.

You wouldn't think that one guy could have that big of an impact, but Grady Jackson certainly is an integral part of what the Packers do on defense, and that's get in the gaps, get upfield and make the back cut back, allowing the pursuit to get to him and make a play.

Hey LeRoy, Everyone has made a big deal over the 49ers shutout streak, which ended last week. When was the last time the Pack was shut out, and where does their current streak rank in history? - Joe (River Falls, WI)

The Packers haven't been shut out since October 27, 1991 - a streak that now extends to 205 consecutive games and ranks second in active streaks behind Minnesota at 207.

The 49ers' recent streak was 420 games, and is by far the longest in league history.

If the Packers go the remainder of the season without being shut out, their streak will be at 217 games, and put them in a tie for the fifth-longest (fourth-longest if someone shuts out the Vikings before the get there) streak in NFL history.

I heard on ESPN earlier today that only eight teams that started the season 1-3 continued on to the playoffs. Do you foresee the Packers becoming the ninth team to do so? - Kevin (Butler, NJ)

I think the Packers have a good shot of doing that because of the talent that this team has on the roster. I could see them running off four or five wins in a row, and that's what it probably will take to get the Packers back among the elite teams and in the running for a playoff spot.

The key to everything will be to get their swagger back and to get better on their home field. Teams are getting too comfortable coming into Lambeau thinking they have a chance to win.

I think the crowd Monday night needs to be very energetic and play a big part in helping the Packers get a big win against Tennessee. If you guys can get our guys pumped up, I'm sure they'll dig down deep inside and come up with a victory.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

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