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Letters To LeRoy Butler


First of all, just because Deion Sanders is coming back out of retirement, I thought about it for about 20 seconds or so (ha ha), but of course I won't be coming back to the field. He didn't break his shoulder in three places like I did. Thank you for all the nice e-mails, but my playing days are over. Now, let's get on to this week's letters:

Hey LeRoy - Out of all of the DB's you played with, who did you have the best chemistry with? - Jason (Kewaskum, WI)

I would have to say Darren Sharper. He knew his role, and I knew mine, and we really worked well together.

Eugene Robinson is a close second, though.

LeRoy, all preseason I've heard how the Packers cornerbacks are going to play bump-n-run coverage. Yet, while closely watching all the preseason games, I've noticed that the corners rarely - if ever - get a jam on the receiver at the line of scrimmage to misdirect the route. Sure, the corners are lining up closer to the line of scrimmage but they aren't getting a jam. Why is this? - Jon (Milwaukee, WI)

It takes patience. The corners have got to be more patient at the line of scrimmage. When the wide receiver makes his move, you've got to let him be patient and make him come to you. Once the guys learn to be more patient, they will be OK.

LeRoy, after Brett's first interception during last Friday's game against Jacksonville, I noticed you were talking to him on the sidelines. What was that conversation about? By the way, I'd love to see bring back the old six shooter spin and holster routine you and number 4 used to do. -Tim (Sheboygan, WI)

I wanted to know what he was looking at and what he saw in his progression. He told me that he got a little greedy on the route. There was someone open underneath, but he would have been short of the first down. He told me he just went for too much on the throw.

That celebration was all about having fun. As a matter of fact, when he threw the TD pass to Ferguson, we talked about doing it right there, but we held off on it.

As a guy that took reduced salaries more than once to help the team, how do you personally feel about guys that hold out for more money? - Milond (Omaha, NE)

Take Brett Favre for example. When Peyton Manning got a $35 million signing bonus, Brett didn't go upstairs and say he wanted more, even though he probably could have gotten it. He's an unselfish guy and that's the kind of person I always wanted to be.

Brett and I were just talking about athletes always wanting more. Neither one of us were ever in a situation where we tried to hold out for more money, because the game is really about the fans. We all make good money, but you've got to make sure you're playing football for the right reasons, not playing for the money. The money will come if you do well.

I hope the younger athletes understand that the game is bigger than money.

Hey LeRoy - Could you give the job descriptions for free and strong safety? What ideally the packers want opposite Sharper. You used to blitz a lot and now they are talking about Sharper doing the blitzing. Is it differences in Rhodes' scheme opposed to Slowik's or is it personnel? - Nick (Medford, WI)

At strong safety, you are more aggressive. You play closer to the line of scrimmage, you blitz a lot, and you help to cover the best receiver, whoever that might be, down the field.

At free safety, you're the quarterback of the defense. You have to line people up, you audible. You blitz every now and then, but for the most part, you're the safety valve. You have to be the furthest guy down the field, and not allow any deep passes or long runs.

I think the difference is in the scheme, but there are a lot of things in Bob Slowik's scheme that we haven't seen yet this preseason.

Hello LeRoy! The Packers have had a problem with penalties this preseason. How important is it for them to clean those up in Friday's final preseason contest at Tennessee? And do you think once all the regular starters are healthy and playing together again that those penalties should decrease? - Michelle (Tipton, IN)

The penalties will definitely decrease once the starters are in for the full game. A lot of the flags we've seen have been because of mental mistakes - guys not moving their feet, for example. The first thing coaches will say when somebody gets called for holding is that it was because he wasn't moving his feet.

I've noticed several of the "castaways" from other ball clubs seem to be doing very well in the Packer organization. Why does a Grady Jackson, Gilbert Brown or the many other football players, who were only marginal with their original club, seem to do much better with the Pack? - Bill (Houghton, MI)

I think the Packers organization really has a family atmosphere and guys realize that they don't have to be a superstar here, they just have to fit in. You just have to make the plays when they come your way.

The Packers don't put pressure on guys to be Pro Bowlers. They just put pressure on guys to do their jobs. At their other teams, they were relied on heavily to play over their heads. In Green Bay, there's not as much pressure as you're just expected to do your job and contribute.

Hi LeRoy, Thanks for all of the great feedback, you're an asset to the web and the Packer Nation. I am curious of your opinion relating to the new enforcement of the "hands off" after 5 yards rule. Do you expect the league as a whole to modify their offensive game plans to take advantage? And how do you see the Packers addressing this offensively? Thanks Again! - David (Camarillo, CA)

You'll see more teams throwing the ball down the field this year. Any contact is going to be a penalty and sometimes it's a 40-yard penalty. You'll see more defenses blitzing more in order to give quarterbacks less time to throw the ball.

I think you might see the Packers run a little more play-action as a result of the rule change. When you fake handing the ball to the running back, the defenders can get caught looking to come up to make the tackle. In the past, they would help themselves recover by sticking their arm out to slow down the receiver, but now that's going to be a penalty.

Who do you think is the team to beat in the NFC this year? AFC? What is your Super Bowl prediction? - Matt (Des Moines, IA)

Besides the Green Bay Packers, I think the team to beat will be the Philadelphia Eagles. They've been in the Championship game the last three years and made some big moves in the offseason to try to get better.

In the AFC, you have to go with New England. I'm someone who believes in "King of the Hill". Until someone knocks them off, they're still the champions. As for a challenger to the Patriots, I'd have to say Indianapolis, but I think New England will be the team.

As far as the Super Bowl goes, I think you're going to see a rematch of Super Bowl XXXI with the Packers meeting the Patriots. It will be a close game, but the Packers will win by 7 with a late interception return for a touchdown by Darren Sharper.

Glad to see that you are back with your Q&A - The 5th of September is rapidly approaching - what will tip the scales in deciding who gets released? Is it based more on filling the Packer's needs or is it based more on what the player has shown so far in training camp and preseason? - Robin (Jackson Hole, WY)

I think it's really a combination of both of those things. You have to add the money factor in there, as well.

When you deal with the salary cap, you have to look at what kind of value you can get from a player. Nowadays, you just don't keep a guy if he's a backup unless he can also play on special teams. That could be the difference in whether or not someone makes the roster.

LeRoy, Looking at this year's schedule, do you think that the Packers can return to a team feared at home? Thanks for your time! - Eric (Columbus, OH)

That's one of my focus points for the Packers this season. The Packers have got to take back the home field advantage. You need to be able to go undefeated at home and split on the road. You cannot afford to lose games at home.

That's one of the reasons in the '90s why we were so good for so long. We were so very good at home.

To be a winning team, you have to play tough defense on the road and play great offense at home.

Leroy - After watching the first three preseason games, I feel that James Lee and Corey Williams have exceeded expectations for players their age. Who, out of the young defensive linemen, have impressed you the most and why? - Dan (Chicago, IL)

I really like Cullen Jenkins because he's has a good motor. He never stops moving out there and is always hustling to make plays. James Lee is definitely someone that's going to be relied on this year also. He's a big, strong guy, so those two would be the ones that have impressed me the most so far.

What percentage of the plays from the playbook are actually completed during pre-season? They have to keep a few surprises, right? - Suzanne (De Pere, WI)

You have to be very vanilla in the preseason, but the closer you get to the regular season, the more of the playbook is in place. You definitely have to run what's in the playbook so the guys will be able to run those plays during the season.

At this point, though, about 60% of the playbook is in place, and the rest will come week-to-week as the coaching staff prepares specifically for the upcoming opponent. Each team receives its own game plan.

As far as what they've used on the field in the games, they've probably used about 40% of the things that you will see this fall on Sundays.

What non-starter do you think will have the biggest impact on the game every week for the Packers? - Tim (Cassville, WI)

I think Antonio Chatman will have a big impact every week. Right now, he's at the #4 receiver spot, so he'll be catching some passes and making an impact in the return game also. He's probably the guy outside of the starting 22 that will be able to make his mark.

What is the best (or worst) joke that was played on you during your time in GB? - Jim (Virginia)

The best trick ever played on me was when Jim McMahon emptied out the Listerine bottle in the locker room and refilled it with caster oil. That was a little rough - it left a numb feeling in my mouth for about an hour. That would probably be the worst joke played on me as a Packer.

*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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