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Notebook: Youth Won't Change Game Plan


Head Coach Mike McCarthy is no stranger to starting rookies on offense.

Last year as the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, McCarthy saw as many as seven rookies on his unit.

So it doesn't necessarily bother him that the Packers appear to be going into training camp with two rookies, second-round draft pick Daryn Colledge and third-rounder Jason Spitz, starting at guard on the offensive line. He doesn't expect the youth on the interior of the line to alter any game plans.

"If they're in a starting position I'm comfortable with it because they've earned that opportunity," McCarthy said. "If you have so many (rookies), it's not very comfortable. You have to call a different game and your approach is different.

"But I think regardless of who our starting guards are, we're going to be young but I don't think it's going to change the way we're trying to play. As long as we're not limited because we are so young, I think we'll be fine."

McCarthy has been particularly impressed with Spitz, who he says shows tremendous discipline with his hands for a young player. Spitz, from Louisville, also has been asked to play multiple positions on the line during practice and acquitted himself well.

But the starting positions are by no means settled. Second-year pro Junius Coston, a fifth-round pick in 2005, is also among those in the mix at guard.

"I think we have very healthy competition there with all those young guys, and Junius is definitely a big part of that," McCarthy said. "The good news is they all have a tremendous upside, so we have to get to that as quick as we can."

Depth improving

Asked if anything has been a pleasant surprise to him during the organized team activities (OTAs), McCarthy pointed to the depth of various position groups.

"I think we've got a lot more depth than I realized before we hit the field, particularly in the secondary and defensive line," he said. "I think our linebacker group is really coming together, ... and the tight end group is the most athletic group I've been around since I've been in the league."

That's saying something for the tight ends, a group that includes veterans Bubba Franks, David Martin and Donald Lee. Back in 2003 with McCarthy coordinating the Saints' offense, tight ends Boo Williams and Ernie Conwell combined for 74 catches, 726 yards and seven TDs.

Favre to stay in shape

Quarterback Brett Favre did not participate in the final OTA, but McCarthy indicated he'll get a personal visit from strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson in Mississippi in the next month to work on any conditioning that's needed.

As far as learning a new version of the West Coast offense, McCarthy said Favre has made the transition smoothly and would expect him to hit the ground running with the offense when training camp begins.

"He has excellent recall. I don't anticipate any problems there," McCarthy said. "I just think it's an old dog with new tricks. He's done it so long one way, and we've jolted him a little bit with some new learning, but frankly I told him I think it's healthy for him."

McCarthy also felt Favre was at his best thus far in the offseason right before he left on Tuesday afternoon.

"As you watched him go through OTAs, to me you saw his arm coming around more and more," he said. The last couple practices it was at the point where he's almost showing off, sticking it in there when he probably shouldn't be. But he can.

"You definitely saw the ball starting to spin off his hand with a lot of velocity this past week."

Getting away

In addition to the players, the coaching staff will be taking time off as well prior to the start of training camp.

McCarthy's assistant coaches are expected to be off on Friday, returning the week before camp begins. McCarthy plans to leave Green Bay as well but confessed there's plenty of work for him to stay on top of between now and July 28.

"I'll be getting away, but I don't know if I'll be off," he said with a smile.

"I'll be spending time with my daughter. This is time of year we spend our quality time together, and that won't change."

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