(How didTramon Williamslook to you?)
I love your first questions. I look forward to them. Tramon Williams. I did not get a chance to watch him a whole lot. I watched him work out on Thursday. He's in excellent shape. I'll have more information when I watch the film. But I'm not concerned with where Tramon is right now. I think he'll be fine and ready to go when training camp starts, and we'll use these couple days here to get him up to speed.
(Good to have him back in the fold?)
Absolutely. Tramon Williams, he's one of our guys. He's a Green Bay Packer. He's someone that I've personally enjoyed watch grow from his time here, the way he came into our program and the individual success that he's had, and really for the bright future that's in front of him. It's great to have Tramon back.
(The mandatory mini-camp used to be a bigger deal. Is it a testament to the attendance you had in OTAs that this is a continuation of that and it really doesn't look any different? Is that the way the game has evolved?)
That's the way we've evolved here in Green Bay. That's really the illustration of the program we've built here. I agree with your opinion. You used to have the mini-camp historically where it was really the starting point of your offseason program. For us the last couple years it's been the ending point. And it's a testament to the players, their commitment of being here since March 15 and just the amount of work we've been able to get done, which leads into training camp because it gives us the opportunity to have a smart, tough, healthy training camp environment. It's because of the commitment here of our football players and our coaching staff getting ahead of schedule on making decisions how we're going to play the upcoming season. I'm very happy, very pleased with the production again this year in our offseason program.
(What are you doing Wednesday that you don't want a public practice?)
If I didn't want the public to know about it, why would I talk about it? But you'll be there, though. So you'll let them know.
(How do you get guys to show the commitment? Is it because you talk about how this leads into training camp?)
I think our business is very simple in terms of approach. The dynamics of the people involved make it complicated. I think as a coach, when you offer a player the opportunity to improve, you give him a plan, you show exactly how he can improve in March, April, May, and then you do it year after year and you have evidence of individuals in your program that have improved, they're going to be here. Players want to get better. Players want the opportunity to compete for jobs. They want to be on a championship team, and that's all part of our plan.
(If you didn't get the kind of commitment that you do, would you have to take a different approach to training camp?)
If we didn't have the commitment that we've had here since March, our training camp would look entirely different, yes. Ted Thompson would not like our training camp practices if we didn't have the commitment. That's a joke between Ted and I. I don't know why I'm trying to be funny. To me, it's the same speech I give them every year. You've got that much work to do, and we can get it done so much in the offseason and so much in training camp, or we can do a little bit in the offseason and we can do a whole lot in training camp. That's as simple as I can put it, and that's exactly how it's been communicated to our football team. Now going through it five years, I think they appreciate the way we go about it.
(Are you looking forQuinn Johnsonto make a big jump?)
Quinn needs to. I can say that for any first-year player going into his second year. That's really part of the offseason program. It lines up for younger players particularly to make that jump from their first to second year. That's something I've always looked for. I think it's very important when you follow an NFL player's career, that there has to be a point in his career, particularly early, where he does make that jump. Because they all come in on different levels coming out of college. I think we're all in tune with that. I think it's very important for Quinn to make a big jump this year.
(How's he looking so far?)
He looks good. Quinn is the type of player I think will show up more when the pads are on. It's definitely his strength. He's a thumper, as far as his style of playing the fullback position. He needs to progress in some of the other areas, particularly on special teams. So I'm looking for him to improve in that area.
(What did you see inGraham Harrellover Shepard?)
Well, we released Noah Shepard Friday morning, and just sharing with Noah, I definitely feel he has the ability to play in the National Football League. Timing is never favorable at this time of year when you have to make those decisions. We just feel Graham is further ahead. But I think they're both two young, developing prospects I think any quarterback coach would like to develop.
(Any of the injured guys that you don't think will be ready come July 31?)
The only individual in the conversation with Dr. Pat McKenzie that we're concerned about would be Al Harris. I think Al is going to be definitely challenged to make it at the beginning of training camp. I'm sure Al may tell you something differently, but that's kind of my assessment of the information I've been given. But we're looking for everybody to pass their physical on that particular day. Now, time will answer that question. But I'm hopeful that all the players on that list will pass their physical.
(Your thoughts on a possible 18-game schedule?)
Hmm. 18-game schedule. I think there's reasons obviously to do it. I would need to know more about it. I'd be going back to what we talked about earlier, the question about the offseason program. I'd be very concerned on all the parts leading up to the 18-game season. I clearly understand the financial position that creates the opportunity for 18 games and respect that from a league's perspective. But my particular job is to train and prepare a football team and to make sure that our product is at the highest level come Week 1 of the regular season. My concerns would be what's available in the offseason? What does that training camp schedule look like? Having been in charge of putting together a schedule to get a football team ready, I want to make sure that we're aligning with the beliefs of I'm sure any head coach in this league.
(Are you afraid of time being taken away in the offseason?)
I don't have a concern one way or another because I haven't been part of any conversation, but I'm not naïve to what goes on in negotiations. Things become expendable and decisions are made with maybe different priorities in line. That would be my concern coming from my position.
(What is the story with Bigby not being here for mandatory mini-camp?)
Well, he's not under contract, so that's clearly a business decision on Atari's part, and that's like any of our players that have had an individual contract situation. There is really nothing to talk about.
(How do you view holdouts? Do you detest them and think they are a distraction or do you just focus on the guys out on the field?)
No. 1, you have to coach the people that are here, from our perspective, because you can't concern yourself or worry about things you can't control. You're dealing with so many different individual business situations, and we all have contracts. I don't think it is my position, and frankly it is not my focus, to referee right or wrong. And that's why my approach is always the same when I stand in front of this microphone. It's an individual business situation that Atari and his representatives are handling, and that's what Russ Ball and Ted Thompson do an excellent job of. I know there is communication throughout. Those are the things that I concern myself with. I know Atari has been in Arizona, and the feedback as far as his conditioning and his health has been very positive. Those are the things that I am focused on, and his business situation will be resolved when he feels appropriate.
(Where did that mentality come from?Mike HolmgrenandMike Shermanused to come in here and complain about guys, but you never do that. Where does that come from?)
I just think the game of football is very similar to the game of life. There are things you can control and there are things you cannot. In our sport of football, whether you are being competitive on the field, sometimes players are not available, due to injury or some other circumstance. You have to have that part of your game planning and part of your installation to overcome that because the game is always going to go on. That's something that everybody learns very quickly being part of the NFL. I think it is no different from a business approach. Everybody has a window of opportunity from a business standpoint, and everybody is trying to maximize that, and no one needs to apologize for that. So I don't think it's personal. I have never viewed it as personal. I don't think it is disrespectful to the organization because I am definitely going to always do what I feel is in the best interest of the organization. There is an individual business side of our business. I'm just stating the obvious. I don't think it makes any sense to get emotional about it and waste any time with it. Like I said, we all have contracts and sometimes things are not lined up the way you want and you just work to get it straightened out.
(From an on-field standpoint, is it different when a guy like Atari, who already knows the system, misses time compared to a rookie?)
The rookie situation is a different angle, let's be honest, because particularly when you draft a rookie with a high draft pick and you see it time and time again, a first-round pick is not here and he is just falling further and further behind, and let's be honest, he is going to be on your 53-man roster. I can stand up here and jump up and down and act like a fool, but we're still not going to cut the No. 1 pick. So that is frustrating from a coaching standpoint, I don't disagree with that. But you definitely probably have a little more leniency or understanding toward an individual that you have gone to battle with. Atari Bigby has been here through offseason programs. I have watched Atari grow as a football player from NFL Europe, so I do appreciate his flight to this particular time. He is trying to do what he feels is in his best interest as a professional football player and for his family, and I respect that.
(How do you feel about the depth at safety?)
Our safety position, from a numbers standpoint, this is the strongest that it has been in my time here. That is a positive for us as a football team. I think Burnett has done a very good job jumping right in and taking advantage of his opportunities. I'm excited to see Will Blackmon and Derrick Martin get back out there in training camp, and you've got to be excited about Levine and Charlie Peprah, what they have done. Nick Collins looks great. He has had an excellent offseason, and it's definitely a very competitive group.
(Has Pat given you an idea that Al could be ready at some point in camp?)
A date? I think we are a little too far out. I know Al has been in here. I saw him in there Friday and Saturday, so he is putting everything he has into it. Everybody knows the type of pro that Al Harris is. It's a serious injury and we're going to be smart with him and give him the time that he needs.