Next Step For McCarthy Is Completing Staff

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Head Coach Mike McCarthy

With the hiring of longtime NFL coach Dom Capers to run Green Bay's defense, Head Coach Mike McCarthy will now turn his attention to filling out the remainder of the coaching staff, which includes several positions on defense as well as strength and conditioning coordinator.

McCarthy said that he was meeting Monday with potential coaches for his staff, and also had a number of interviews scheduled for the next three or four days. Capers, who has not arrived in Green Bay yet due to travel issues, will be involved in the interviews for the openings on defense.

"We've had a number of coaches in town throughout last week and we'll continue this week," McCarthy said. "He's been updated of the individuals that we're talking to, and we'll move through that process this week together."

One opening on the staff that has been filled is special teams coordinator, where Shawn Slocum was tabbed last week to replace Mike Stock, who retired shortly after the end of the regular season.

Slocum served on Green Bay' staff the last three seasons as the assistant special teams coach, helping tutor many of the Packers' core special teams players such as Will Blackmon, Jarrett Bush, Desmond Bishop and Charlie Peprah.

"Going through the special teams coordinator hiring process, I had an opportunity to talk to a number of different people," McCarthy said. "I had an opportunity to bring some individuals in, and time and time again, frankly, it just kept going back to Shawn.

"I think Shawn Slocum is an excellent coach. I just think the response in the building was evident, from his fellow coaches, the people in personnel and throughout, and the players, the feedback from the players, how excited everybody is for Shawn to put his blueprint on the special teams. I clearly thought he was the best choice for that position."

Slocum will be charged with improving a special teams group that had its struggles in '08. After the special teams made a noticeable jump in production in 2007, evidenced by their rise from 32nd in the league in 2006 to 7th in '07 in the Dallas Morning News' annual special teams rankings, the Packers' production in kickoff return and kickoff coverage took a step back this season.

The Packers finished last in the league this season in kickoff return average at 20.1, and ranked tied for 19th in the NFL as they allowed opponents to post a 23.4 average on kick returns. Green Bay gave up seven kickoff returns of 40-plus yards, which tied Kansas City and Denver for the most in the league.

Although Slocum worked with Stock the past three seasons, McCarthy said he is confident that Slocum will put his own mark on the team's special-teams units.

"I think that's such a misconception of any assistant that's promoted for his first coordinator type position," McCarthy said. "It's important for anybody to step into the new chair and to be himself, to put his blueprint on that group. I'm not looking to hire an assistant that wants to do it like the coordinator that was there before him.

"That's not the intent, because the game of football in the NFL is always revolving. It changes. People do different things. Schematically every year there's new ideas, and I say new ideas, things that may have happened 10 years ago, but people are adjusting and moving all the time, and it's important for the new coach, in Shawn's circumstances, to put his ideas, to put his blueprint on the special teams."

{sportsad300}Another area of the coaching staff that will see a change in 2009 is at strength and conditioning coordinator. Rock Gullickson, who served in that role since McCarthy took the helm in '06, was one of six assistants released by the team on Jan. 5.

McCarthy said he expected to make a hire for that position in the next couple of days from a group of five finalists that includes Mark Lovat, who has been with the team as an assistant strength and conditioning coach since 1999.

McCarthy said the thought process that went into making the change in strength and conditioning was similar to the one that made him go in a different direction on the defensive side of the ball. He wanted to see progress from each season, and the growth and improvement that he was looking for was not there.

"There is an environment that existed that was not what I was looking for frankly, and that's why it was another tough, difficult change to make, especially on a personal level," McCarthy said. "But it's a big part of our program. It's a part of our program that needs to improve.

"We are a young football team, and we need to make the changes. I don't care if we're lifting free weights, flipping tires, or whatever we are doing, but we need to do a better job in there."

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