On the final day of the Green Bay Packers' inaugural Fan Fest, the featured speaker in the Lambeau Field Atrium was none other than Head Coach Mike Sherman. Sherman took about 30 minutes to interact with the fans in attendance, participating in a question and answer session.
The coach answered a variety of questions, ranging from personnel issues to the difficulty of leading the Green and Gold through the rigors of an always unpredictable NFL season.
Following his session with the fans, Sherman held a press conference where he encountered many of the same questions.
One issue that has been on the minds of many - both fans and media alike - over the past few weeks has been the issue what the Packers will do along the offensive line, which due to some free agent losses will be fielding a new starting five in 2005 for the first time since 2001.
"We've been fortunate enough to be able to hang on to people for a while," Sherman said. "It's very unique to hang on to an offensive line as long as we had - that's an oddity. All of a sudden there's change, (but) these changes happen to every team every year. It just didn't happen to us recently because we've been able to keep them on board, but the numbers get so prohibitive and we had to make a move. This will be a good thing for us and we'll get it worked out and it's a good thing for those players.
"But obviously, we don't have to play a game tomorrow, or the next day, or even the next day. We'll line up in September and we'll have a good team ready to go and make a run at this thing come September."
The team has also undergone major changes on the defensive side of the ball, with many new faces on the coaching staff led by new coordinator Jim Bates. Sherman was asked if he envisions any players making position changes in the new scheme, and the coach said anything is possible.
"We've thought of every option available in regard to how we're going to make our defense better next season," Sherman said. "We're certainly looking at every athlete that's on our roster, as well as those that are not, (as) possibilities. I wouldn't rule anything out at this point."
One such change that has been mentioned as a possibility has been the idea of linebacker Nick Barnett moving from the middle 'backer position he has manned in his two seasons in Green Bay to one of the outside linebacker spots.
Sherman didn't rule out any potential shift, but wasn't even close to nailing anything down with months remaining yet before training camp opens.
"I think it really depends on the final group of linebackers we end up with," said Sherman. "Because Nick has the versatility to play multiple positions - I think he's more suited to 'Will' and 'Mike' in this scheme, he can play 'Buck' as well. He has the most versatility - possibly he and Diggs - that we'll probably mix and match to try to get the best combination we can. So to say he's going to play this or that at this point would be conjecture on my part."
Barnett - who was on hand later in the day - said he'll play wherever the coaches feel is best in order to give his team the best chance to repeat as division champions for the fourth straight season.
"I'm not opposed to anything if it's going to help us win," the linebacker said. "Of course I would love to stay in the middle and play in the middle because that's what I've grown to love around here, but if they want me to move to the outside or wherever they want me to move, I'd have no problem doing so. I'm here to win games, and if that's going to help us win games I have no problem doing that."
It's apparent that the roster that hits the field in 2005 will have some significant differences to the one Sherman led through the tunnel last season, but it's equally apparent that Sherman is eager to get the '05 squad together and working to bring more wins to the fans.