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Letters To LeRoy Butler


Hi LeRoy, With the season just around the corner, who is the one player you see having a break-out season? GO PACK!!! - Michael (Neenah, WI)

I see Chad Clifton making the Pro Bowl this year. I think he's ready to raise his game to another level in 2004.

I think Ahman Green might very well get 2,000 yards rushing this year.

There is the possibility that three of the Packers' five offensive linemen could be heading to the Pro Bowl this season. The potential on offense is unlimited, but if I had to pick just one guy who I think is going to step up this year, I would pick Chad Clifton.

Do you have a sense that our two rookie cornerbacks have a lot of heart? On talent alone, I can see good things in the future, but I wanted to know if you can see a fire in either one of them to become something special. - Joe (Woodbury, MN)

Absolutely. I think both of these guys are tough mentally, and they will be thrown into the fire early. This is not college - they don't redshirt people in the NFL. You have to let them gain their experience by putting them out there. These guys have proven in the last four or five weeks that they're blessed with talent. I think they're both ready to step up to the challenge and show that they belong.

Hey Leroy - First up, love the columns. My question is, after the NFL mandates the final rosters to 53 players, do teams generally look at the waiver wire for players that were just cut by their rivals or teams they will be playing in the coming season? Seems like every year the Pack grab a guy from either Minnesota or Detroit. Is this just to get a guy that knows the opponents schemes on their own side? - Brett (San Diego, CA)

Typically, you look at the waiver wire for guys from all over the league. However, you're more familiar with guys from your own division since you see them twice a year. Plus, someone who has played against you knows your system fairly well, and will be able to pick it up faster.

The Packers are always looking at the waiver wire and trying to improve the team. The personnel department is always looking around to find players who might be able to make the team better.

Sometimes it happens that way that you pick up someone from an upcoming opponent, though. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers pick up a Carolina reject here in the next few days, just to get some information and then cut him after the game. That's just the way it goes in this league.

Mr. Butler - I am a huge fan of yours, and always admired your instincts and leadership on the field. You and Reggie White were key to the success of the Super Bowl XXXI team because you really brought the intensity and enthusiasm levels up. Do you see some of the same type of leadership emerging on this team? - Dave (Appleton, WI)

I hope so. The only way you can reach that level is to have veteran leaders. I think this team has plenty of those guys in Grady Jackson, Darren Sharper and Na'il Diggs. They also have a young leader in Nick Barnett.

There is a combination of leadership on this team that needs to take that role that Reggie and I had back on that Super Bowl team.

Hey LeRoy, In your 12 seasons as a Packer, who was the one quarterback you feared the most? - Kieran (Bliss, MI)

I'd have to pick two quarterbacks that were the toughest to play against - Randall Cunningham and Troy Aikman. Cunningham was tough because he could throw such a great deep ball, and Aikman was just so accurate.

By the way, I did pick off both of them.

Mr. Butler-I've always wondered what the atmosphere was like in the locker room before a game. Did you have any pregame rituals? - David (Denver, CO)

I played for 12 years, and in those 12 years, only one guy taped my ankles before every game, and that was Kurt Fielding. He's one of the assistant trainers for the Packers, and he's been there since a couple years before I got there, and he's the only guy to ever, ever tape my ankles.

There were a couple of times when was a little late getting to the stadium for whatever reason, and I would wait until Kurt got there to get taped up.

As far as the locker room atmosphere goes, different guys get ready in different ways. Some guys listen to music, others watch movies, and some guys even take a nap to get ready. Players will do whatever makes them comfortable to get focused for the game.

For me, I was a more relaxed guy. I liked to joke around with guys in the training room. I was real talkative before a game, because that was my way of getting psyched up.

LeRoy, Does the preseason have any impact on the players as far as win-loss is concerned. - Bob (Orlando, FL)

None at all. For most players, they don't need more than two weeks of preseason to be ready for the regular season.

The preseason is a chance for the coaches to evaluate the young players and see how they take what they learn on the practice field out into the preseason games.

I don't see any relation to winning games in the preseason and getting it done once the season starts. You just want to go into September with all of your guys healthy.

Hey LeRoy. I was always a big fan of yours when you played. My question was regarding the Packers' Wide Receiver situation. As of right now, they have 4 wideouts on the roster, those being Walker, Ferguson, Driver and Chatman. Do you think that they will pick up another receiver via waivers/FA or by trade and who do you think they would like to get for that role? - Ryan (Schaumburg, IL)

I'd like to see another veteran player in to mix with the youngsters the Packers have at receiver now. I think the group they have now is a good group, but you'll probably need a 5th guy somewhere down the road.

It would be nice to see someone like Keenan McCardell (if he didn't cost so much), but those guys are tough to come by when you're dealing with the salary cap.

I see the Packers have 3 Monday night games & a Sunday night game. Is that harder for a team? It is harder on me, since I cannot sleep after games. - Ken (Milltown, WI)

I don't think it's any harder on the team to play at night. Night games are a lot of fun, and you know that everybody is watching you. It can be a long day of waiting to get ready for a night game, but the excitement level is very high.

If you ask a guy whether he'd rather play during the day or at night, more guys would rather play at night. It seems like that's when football is meant to be played. It's like a big sports party. I loved playing at night, especially on Monday Night Football.

Hey LeRoy, it looks to me like Ahmad Carroll has improved from game to game during the preseason. He looked great against the Titans, and it seemed they were really going after him. Do you think he has what it takes to start this season and has his improvement really been as dramatic as it looked on the televised games? - John (Green Bay, WI)

Absolutely, he's really made a steady climb throughout training camp. He's getting used to the rules as far as not making contact past five yards. He really believes in himself. His speed can help him get out of any bind.

To start in the NFL is a big jump, but I think he's ready for the challenge if that's how it turns out.

*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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