Notebook: Defensive Helmet/Radio Passes Despite 'No' Vote From Packers


Middle linebacker Nick Barnett, shown here getting a defensive signal from the sideline to relay to the huddle, is the most likely candidate on defense to wear the helmet/radio for the Packers.

The proposal to allow the defense to have a coach-to-player radio communication system, similar to the one in a quarterback's helmet, passed at the annual meeting of the NFL owners on Tuesday despite a "no" vote from the Packers.

Green Bay was one of seven teams to vote against the measure, which needed 24 votes to pass and got 25 after gaining more support over the past two years.

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the team's objection to the new rule didn't have to do with the helmet/radio itself, but with the fact that how it would actually work and be used during a game wasn't entirely clear.

"I think the intent is excellent, I understand what the committee is trying to do as far as communication," McCarthy said, speaking to a group of reporters at the meetings. "I think the practicality of it is something to question."

The rule would allow one defensive player to have a radio in his helmet to receive play calls from a coach on the sideline. Another defensive player would have a backup helmet on the bench with a speaker inside it should the first defensive player get hurt or not be in the game.

Helmets with the radio or speaker would be marked with a green dot on the back of the helmet, just like the quarterback ones. The coach-to-player communication would prevent defensive signals from being stolen by opposing teams, and the measure gained extra support this year in part because of the New England Patriots' spying scandal.

But McCarthy questioned, in part, how practical it would be to switch defensive radio/helmets on perhaps a moment's notice, or what happens if a player with the radio/helmet also plays on special teams, noting there are many "mechanics" of the rule that "need to be worked out."

That said, McCarthy indicated middle linebacker Nick Barnett would be the most likely candidate on the Packers' defense to get the radio/helmet because he's on the field for every defensive down. One of the safeties - Nick Collins or Atari Bigby - would be another possible choice, or the backup.

Shifting the offseason schedule

McCarthy has shifted the offseason minicamp and OTA schedule slightly from last year.

The rookie orientation will still be the weekend following the draft. But then instead of having the mandatory full-squad minicamp followed by the OTAs, the OTAs will now precede the minicamp.

After rookie orientation (May 1-4), the Packers will conduct roughly a dozen OTAs over a four-week span - the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June - and then conclude the offseason program with the three-day mandatory minicamp from June 17-19.

The rationale behind the change is, in part, to give the rookies more work with the coaches and more exposure to the schemes during the OTAs prior to the mandatory minicamp. Also this way, McCarthy said, the team will finish the offseason program as a full squad and depart together for their last break before training camp begins in late July.

Issue pushed back

The proposal, originated by the Kansas City Chiefs, to curtail long hair from obscuring the name plates or numbers on the backs of players' jerseys has been tabled for the time being. It will be discussed again at the next owners' meeting in May.

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