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Letters To LeRoy Butler


LeRoy - The Bears did to us what we did to the Panthers, and ran up the middle, exposing the void left by Grady Jackson's injury. Can the rest of the defense shift responsibilities to help James Lee, (Jackson's replacement) or is it up to Lee to solely step up and fill the void? - Frankie (Milwaukee, WI)

I think it's solely up to Lee. This is his opportunity to play. He's a bigger nose guard, a bigger tackle. I think he will do well. I like him. Whenever you get a guy that big, you can work with him, and I think he'll do well.

He's just going to try to improve every week. Hopefully he can get noticed by making some plays. He'll make strides because he has a very good coach in Jethro Franklin, who will make sure he's ready every week.

Leroy, The Bears started the game with a lot of offensive movement prior to the snap. How does this affect a blitzing defense? - Brian (Madison, WI)

It can affect the defense to a degree, but once you're set on defense, that's the side you're going to be going from. If I'm blitzing from the left, and then they shift the tight end, I'm still going to be coming from the left.

The problem is, when they shift, they are making the weak side the strong side, and if they run to the strong side, the defense will have fewer players there to stop the run. What the defense tries to do when the offense shifts, is to stay at home and slide to the strong side.

Hello LeRoy!!! All teams claim to have loyal fans, yet, Packer fans stand alone as the best!! . LeRoy, do players coming from other teams who play for the Packers ever comment on how much more they are appreciated by Packer fans than their previous team fans? Thank you, and God Bless!!!!! - Laura (Milwaukee, WI)

They like it, but I don't know how Tim Couch liked it since he got booed while he was here. He might have thought he was still in Cleveland. For the most part, though, when our guys talk to other players when they come here, they appreciate the fact that our fans stay after every game.

The fans also buy their jerseys. You could be a new Packer, and as soon as you get your jersey, the fans will buy it. This is the only team in the league with fans that will do that. That sets our fans apart.

That's the reason I stayed in Green Bay, because of the fan appreciation.

Hi LeRoy. I love reading your columns; they're a great inside perspective on what's going on. I've noticed some teams like to start the game with a no-huddle offense to get the momentum on their side and throw off the opposing team's defense. With most teams scripting the first 15 or so plays in every game, why isn't this approach taken more often? - Victor Carbonneau (Los Angeles, CA)

Whenever you're on the road, teams like to start with a faster pace because they feel like the home team will have a slower start since they assume they will win just because they are at home.

You try to catch the other team off guard, the element of surprise. You try to give them something they haven't worked on. Most defenses don't work on no-huddle. Our defense does, so we won't ever be caught by surprise.

Essentially, it's a good deal to start the game in the no-huddle. To do that, though, you really have to have a quarterback that can run the offense well.

Considering balancing time, family, and activities that interest a player in the offseason, how much dedication is needed to report to training camp in shape?. Does it vary from position, and has it changed from when you entered the league? - Mark (West Bend, WI)

You absolutely, definitely have to come into camp in shape. It's your job. Just like if you're working at any job, you have to make sure that you're ready if you have that big of a lay-off. If you have four months off, you've got to come in ready to go. You only hold that position until they can find someone that's better.

If you come into camp out of shape, you then will spend the whole preseason getting in shape, and you won't be able to concentrate on the things you need to learn in camp.

Getting in shape is something that most players do. I think well over 90% of the players that come into training camp are in great shape.

Losing to Chicago at home seems to me like a very tough loss to swallow. The Packers have a very tough schedule and can't dwell on the past. From your experiences how hard is to bounce back after a tough loss at home against a division rival? They now have to go up against the Colts and a very explosive offense and can't afford to be still thinking about the loss against Chicago. - Kaz (New Jersey)

Is that a coach sending this question? Like the coaches here always say, you have to keep moving forward.

Let me ask the fans a question? Which loss is more disappointing to you, the Bears loss or the Philadelphia loss? To me as a player, both are of the same magnitude and both have a lesson that you can learn from.

You have to be ready to play each week. In every game, one or two plays can make all the difference. The team that makes the least amount of mistakes or has the better turnover ration is always going to have a good chance of winning the game.

Our guys were prepared. They were ready before the game, but Chicago made the plays they were supposed to make and the Packers didn't. That was the difference.

Why is it that the Pack can beat the best of teams in the NFL then lose the games they should win? Like last year on Thanksgiving, There was no excuse to lose that game to Detroit or the game to Chicago. Why are they not consistent? - Travis (Salt Lake City, Utah)

That's a good question because you've got to win the games you're supposed to win, and you're supposed to beat Chicago at home. You'd like to go undefeated at home, because if you can't people start to fear your home field less and less and becomes less of a hostile environment.

A hostile environment starts with the home team winning. It has nothing to do with how much the fans scream. You can scream all you want, but if the team on the field is not winning, they won't have a home field advantage.

When you look at going 10-6, 11-5 or 12-4, one or two games can be the difference of getting home field throughout the playoffs and not making the playoffs at all. You've got to win the games you're supposed to win, and the Packers let one slip through.

Leroy, Am I the only person who saw Urlacher's illegal block in the back on Favre during the fumble return? I know it means nothing today, but I'm just curious! Was I seeing things, or did Urlacher really throw an illegal block that could have changed the result of the play? - Kimberli (South Elgin, IL)

Thank you for mentioning that. I didn't want to sound like a crybaby and bring it up myself.

He definitely clipped Brett, hitting him right in the #4 on the back of his jersey. There was another case where Robert Ferguson was facemasked late in the game, and the officials missed that call too. Those are two calls that you would think the Packers would get at Lambeau Field.

The block in the back was blatant, though, and it would have changed the game completely. Chicago would have had the ball at their own 10 with the score 7-3, instead of a TD to make it 14-3, and I don't think they could have moved down the field and scored before halftime.

Leroy, I read your letters every week and your synopsis on the upcoming games. My bosses are ready to change my name to Mark Butler. Just wanted to know, why is it Ahman Green fumbles in the beginning of every season, then he doesn't fumble anymore as the season progresses? - Mark (Red Wing, MN)

Ahman is left-handed. Whenever the Packers run the ball to the right, he has a hard time switching it to his right arm so he can stiff-arm tacklers. The Packers traditionally run the ball a lot up the middle and to his left, so he can carry the ball in his left hand and stiff-arm to his right.

They can't just not run to the right, though. If he is running to the right, he's more vulnerable to fumble because he has the ball in his left hand, and when people hit him, there's no defense. He can't use his right arm to defend the tacklers from swiping at the ball.

When running to his right, he has to mindfully switch the ball from his left hand to his right. For whatever reason, he gets a lot better at that as the season goes on.

*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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