(How are the young guys picking up on things?)
I would say yesterday and today are really the most challenging days from a volume standpoint. Yesterday the emphasis was third down. Today the emphasis was red zone. That's a challenge really for our whole football team, and even moreso for the rookies. I thought yesterday's work was good. Today's was a little more sloppy than yesterday's, which is normal at this stage. But overall at practice, with the five days we've got in, I'm very pleased with the amount of quality work we've been able to accomplish. But we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do, especially the rookies.
(Does it surprise you that Aaron Kampman is here with his situation back home?)
I talked to Aaron throughout the process, and he definitely has his priorities in line, and I know he's going to speak to everyone here later. He was in communication during his time down there and his drive back. You could say it's his commitment to his professional career, but definitely, the priority is what's going on in Iowa for Aaron Kampman.
(What have you seen from Jermichael Finley so far?)
We knew he was very athletic. The length that he has and what he plays with has been impressive. He's picking up the offense very well, like most of the guys. He has his fair share of struggles. He's doing a very good job with the multiple formations and the amount of movement that we're putting him through. He's one of our young players who has a very bright future. Today is a day where you see, Donald Lee had a big day today, but those are the types of things we'll expect from Jermichael as we move forward, particularly in the red zone area.
(How about the guys coming off of injuries, like Abdul Hodge and Noah Herron?)
I think Abdul Hodge has done very well. It's nice to see him bouncing around like he did in his rookie year. I know he's very relieved after what he's gone through over the past year or so. And Noah is back too. Noah looks to be back in the form, and he's just such a smart player, does all the little things right, and he seems comfortable out there also.
(Cullen Jenkins has spent some time inside with some of the injuries that you have; is there any chance he would stay in there once you get everybody back?)
We don't really look at that whole position that way. It's a lot like our offensive line. Our D-line as a whole has excellent flexibility. Cullen is one of those players, with the ability to play inside or outside based on situations. It's definitely been a strength of his. But it's not a matter of he's going to go in there and stay in there. He'll play inside and outside.
(So he is still an end first?)
Depends on what down it is.
(Who will Bob Sanders be talking to on the headset? I assume it is normally Nick Barnett?)
It's more the guy and also the position. The thing about the defensive headset, a number of different factors are involved in who you're going to talk to based on the position, based on the person, as far as the key communicator and things like that. The personnel groupings play a lot into that. But primarily the mike linebackers and the safeties are the areas we'll probably lean towards.
(So it's Barnett and Collins?)
Correct, as we start. It's a process. I just know with my experience going through it with the quarterbacks when it first came in, it's something I talked with Bob about, there were quarterbacks that didn't want anybody in their ear. They wanted to play and that's it. Don't talk to me, don't tell me nothing, get off the phone, and we go to work. But as I've seen it later in my quarterback career, really Brett is probably the first guy, he's like, 'Talk to me as much as you want. You can talk to me all the way up to the time it goes off at 15 seconds.' To me there's a process, because a defensive player has never had anybody in his ear anytime in his career. So we're actually talking about that and making sure they're comfortable with it, because the communication is different for everybody, for the coaches and the players.
(With the 80-man roster limit, do you anticipate having to shorten any of the training camp practices?)
The length of practices won't be shortened. The training camp schedule really, frankly, follows into the number of reps that we'll probably need to be in as far as having only 80 players. If you look at the schedule there's a number of less practices from this year compared to last year and even moreso compared to the first year, and that really has mostly to do with how our schedule played out in training camp. We start later than anybody else because we're playing on Monday Night Football, so we lose three practices right there, because we're going in two days later than normal. We don't ever have seven days between any of our games, so once we get out of the family scrimmage and go to the Monday night game, we never have a seven-day spacing, so we don't get to operate in a full week. So that really helps us as far as cutting back the reps, preparing us for an 80-man roster. And frankly, and that's why your offseason program is always an emphasis, but just the amount of work that we need to get done in our offseason is even more of an emphasis because we need to come into training camp ready to go.
(On those two Thursdays during camp, July 31 and August 7, what is happening on those days?)
They're the Wednesdays from last year. We'll have an offense-defense walk-through/jog-through type practice in the gymnasium, and there will be extensive meetings, and potentially a speaker that day. We had three Wednesdays last year that fit into. Now just because of our schedule, we're only able to have two this year.
(Are you comfortable with the camp schedule? Is it more of a challenge than your previous two camps?)
I'm comfortable with it. There's a lot of time that goes into scheduling. It's something that I keep up on my grease board up in my office. It's something that I go through over and over again. The number of reps from year 1 to 2 and 3, I'm definitely on top of, and how many reps we go through in the spring definitely factors in. I think you can make a mistake in working your guys extremely hard, and the commitment that you get from your players in the offseason program, but frankly, it has to account for something, and that factors into what we do in training camp. With the workload that we have accomplished so far, and the workload that we're going to accomplish by the third week in June, paired with the training camp schedule, I feel very confident our football team will be ready to go on Monday Night Football against the Vikings.
(How valuable are the reps that Orrin Thompson is getting?)
Every rep is valuable, every position, especially for someone in Orrin's case. It's his time. He was someone who was on our 53 for part of the season last year, and he's a player that I'm excited about. He improves every opportunity that he gets. You can see he's definitely improved, just in the time he's been here. This is a big season for him, and a big offseason.
(You have gone from a coach that was relatively unknown on the national level to one of the more well-known in the league. How have you handled that?)
I thank my media friends for that. They keep me on an even keel. They don't allow you to get too big, and they knock you down every chance they get. I appreciate that. People look at you more. It definitely goes with the territory. My experience has been, I don't feel that I have changed, but I think the way people perceive you and the way people look at you tends to change more. But it's a great opportunity. I think this is clearly the best opportunity I'll ever have in my professional life, and I'm just trying to take full advantage of it, and frankly I'm enjoying it every day. I think that's the way you need to do it, because it doesn't last long enough for any of us.
(How did you get to the point where Charles Woodson came in for this week?)
Charles was actually here a lot in February and early March before the offseason program even started. It's part of our program, the importance of what we need to accomplish going into training camp. Just like we talked about, it's all part of the workload that needs to get done, and you need to be more cautious with the older guys, because you can wear them down. I've seen that happen, and I think it's a natural reaction for an older player, especially on a football team that is as young as ours. You see all these young players coming in and you see them getting better every day, they want to make sure they keep their jobs too. I'm not saying that's Charles' particular case, but I think Charles is a lot more comfortable here, and it's great to have him back here working.
(Are you expecting Al Harris to be in attendance for any of the OTAs?)
I talked to Al last week. As far as the exact days and so forth, I don't have that ironed out yet. We'll see what happens. They are voluntary. I know you guys like to do the roll call. We're done.
(With four games in 18 days during the preseason, that looks pretty tough from the outside. How do you prioritize things during the preseason?)
It really is. It's a different schedule. I actually went back and looked at some old schedules that I was part of in Kansas City and New Orleans, and it's important for training camp schedules to flow. I've talked about this before, I felt the first year that I overworked the football team going into the third preseason game, because there were too many continuous days of padded work, and the number of two-a-days that we did in that period of time. You have to be very conscious of that, and it's about the flow. Now, we won't have as many practices, but we're at the point with our football team and we're fortunate we are in year 3, that we can get things done in walk-throughs and jog-throughs, and get out of the classroom. We're not spending as much time in the classroom, and frankly, as a teacher, which all coaches are, there's some point in your program where the classroom needs to go the player as a priority, as opposed to the coach, and I think we're reaching that point. I know we are in certain segments or certain in-season, we do with the perimeter (group), and we need to keep pushing that forward, because the smartest players are always the best players, and that's something that we need to continue to keep our thumb on and push or challenge our players to do. But the amount of on-the-field work is limited this year. That's why the emphasis is really, we need to come out of May and June ready to go.
(What is Tony Moll's status?)
He has a sprained knee. I'm hopeful that he'll be back by next week.
(Have you liked what you have seen from him so far this offseason, after he battled the neck injury last year?)
I think he's had a good offseason, starting in the weight room, starting with the individual time he spends with James Campen and Jerry Fontenot. Tony is like a lot of offensive linemen that I've seen in their third year. You're starting to see him starting to take off. It was unfortunate what he went through last year from an injury standpoint, but I definitely think this is his time to make a big step.
(What are your impressions of Brandon Chillar and how will he fit in your system?)
Brandon is everything we thought he would be, and having the opportunity to compete against Brandon the last two years, from an offensive standpoint against St. Louis's defense, he gives us excellent flexibility. He can line up in all three positions, and by the time we're finished with our spring football here, he'll be able to play all three positions. He'll be part of the sub-packages, sub-personnel. Very athletic, and he definitely can run, and you have to be able to run at the linebacker position in our scheme. Really I like his work ethic. He came in from day one, jumped right into the offseason program, didn't miss a beat, and he's really done a very nice job of fitting in here.
(What did you think of Brady Poppinga in 2007?)
I think Brady steadily improved. I thought Brady played very good down the stretch. Brady is a very physical football player. When you play in the big-time games against the teams that like to pound the football and things like that, I thought his play was excellent. It's definitely his style of game, and those are the type of games frankly that we need to do a better job of. When it comes to pounding the football and stopping the run, that's what wins in playoff time. That's definitely part of it, and I think that really plays into Brady's strengths, and I think he definitely improved in '07.
(Has Tramon Williams stepped forward since the end of last season?)
Tramon has had a very good offseason. Really, the first week of practice, he has been outstanding, particularly in the slot in the nickel and also on the outside. He's a lot stronger. He's doing a lot better job in his bump technique, as far as the releases. He's had three or four that I can think of where he basically buried the receiver at the line of scrimmage. He's definitely had another very good offseason. I would say he was one of our most improved players last year, and I think he's taken another step so far this year.
(Is that surprising since he kind of came out of nowhere?)
That's a tribute to him. He's a very talented young man that developed late, or whatever category you want to put him in. But he's someone that's really taken full advantage of our program here. He's someone you can point to, he's an excellent example of a young man that's here all the time. He doesn't miss any workouts. He's up there one-on-one with his coaches, both in special teams and the defensive back room, taking full advantage of his opportunity. We're really proud of what he's accomplished so far, but he still has a lot in front of him.
(Are you any more hopeful about Ryan Grant's contract situation being resolved than you were a week ago?)
I haven't even talked to Ted about it. It's a business situation. Ryan Grant and the head coach have a very good relationship. He's done everything that we've asked, outside of his business situation, or whatever you want to call it. It's something that's in a totally different category. I think it will be resolved, and both sides are in conversation. So I'm not concerned about it. We've got a lot of work to do, and he's doing the best that he can from his standpoint to stay involved.
(What is Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila's status?)
Kabeer had surgery, when was it yesterday? Today, this morning. It was minor surgery. Something that's been bothering him throughout the offseason. We probably won't get him back until training camp. But I haven't seen the results yet.
(What was the surgery?)
He had a scope on his knee.
(With your screen game being a little inconsistent last year, is that an area you are looking to improve in?)
The screen game is something that in year 1 was poor. It improved last year, and I agree with you, it needs to take another step. You saw today, we have a period, that's all we do is screens, screens and deceptives. So we usually did not have the screen and deceptive period until we got to training camp and in-season, and now we've incorporated it into our spring practices as an emphasis. I think it's like anything in football. It's a fundamental play, there's a lot of fundamental teaching, recognition, identifying the distribution of the blockers and the coordination with the back and the quarterback. We just have to emphasize and keep practicing.
(The Brett Favre locker story has kind of taken on a life of its own. I suppose that doesn't surprise you?)
That one did. I've been around the drama around some of the things that are involved. I think it was totally blown out of proportion. It's frankly an excellent idea that Ted Thompson and the organization had as far as a gift on a personal note to Brett. It's been discussed with Brett, and we can talk about it at a later date. But it's really a construction concern, is the reason why the locker hasn't been taken out of there. There's really nothing more to it, a lot has been made of it. Jeff told me about the national news this morning, sometimes it blows you away. You can call Ted if you want to ask him about it. Ted actually went to the board of directors meeting yesterday and talked about the Brett locker situation and told them the plans that he had as far as what he's going to do with the locker, and they gave him a standing ovation. I thought it's a classy move, and something that definitely reflects how the Green Bay Packers do business and how they appreciate what Brett Favre has done in his career.
(Will Nick Barnett be back for OTAs?)
Time will tell. I guess we'll see next Wednesday. Nick has been here.
(But he is not injured, correct?)
No. He's fine.
(Was Kabeer's injury something that happened in the offseason?)
Pretty much. It's something that, he's not a young puppy anymore, and it's something that's kind of been bothering him of late. Pat thought it was best to do it now. Pat McKenzie.