For second-year middle linebacker Torrance Marshall, news that the Packers would likely sign veteran Hardy Nickerson to compete for the starting job might not have exactly been the birthday surprise that he was hoping for.
However, meeting with the media after the Packers' final mini-camp practice Wednesday, the newly 25-year-old Marshall said it wouldn't alter his attitude or approach for the upcoming season.
"I was going to come into training camp ready to keep my position anyway, so that's not really going to change the way I come into training camp," Marshall said. "I'm always going to come in in the best shape to play for the No. 1 position . . .
"I just want to come in and compete, I'm not really concerned about it. I'm really not. You guys (the media) are making a bigger deal of it than me."
Marshall, who has spent much of the offseason working the Packers coaching staff to learn the defense, said he felt ready to assume the starting role at middle linebacker, but that he supported any decision that would help the team succeed.
"As long as we're winning, I don't care," he said. "I want to win the Super Bowl and if (Nickerson's) the guy that can get us to the Super Bowl, then so be it."
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman dismissed any suggestions that Marshall was not meeting expectations, while noting that the presence of a 15-year NFL veteran like Nickerson might accelerate Marshall through the learning curve.
"If we could help our team, help our defense, by bringing in a player of this quality, we were going to do it," Sherman said. "(Nickerson's presence) also helps Torrance Marshall. I think Torrance would see that as well.
"This is definitely not a knock against my trust in Torrance Marshall. I have a lot of faith in him with how he's worked and prepared to get to this point."
Sherman did not confirm that Nickerson's interest in the Packers was contingent on any promise to start, but Marshall indicated that he would make the best of a backup role if necessary.
"He's a five-time Pro-Bowler, been one of the best linebackers in the league for some years now," Marshall said. "I'm pretty sure he can teach me something about the game and what it takes to be a successful linebacker, so I'll use him as a learning tool."
As a rookie, Marshall was predominantly Bernardo Harris' backup at middle linebacker, playing some at weak side linebacker when Chris Gizzi went down with an injured back. Marshall finished the season with 11 tackles.
Last year, Nickerson set a Jacksonville Jaguars franchise-record with 230 tackles.