* (What did you see in Jermichael Finley when you drafted him and are you surprised at how much he has blossomed?)*
I think it is a credit to Jermichael. He is a very young man, still a very young man, that takes his profession very seriously. He works at his craft. He is gifted athletically and he is also a football guy as an athlete too, which it is nice to have the combination. I think he has a very bright future
(Why do you think he fell so far in the draft?)
Well, he was young. I don't know. The draft goes the way it goes. Why did Tom Brady slip so far? Not that he is Tom Brady, but it just happens, and I'm glad it did too.
(At the combine that year he couldn't stop talking to us about how he had a feeling that Green Bay liked him. I am guessing you make everybody feel like you like them, but were you smitten with him?)
We value Alonzo Highsmith, who does that area, and he obviously had done him first. He was a late 'do' because when I was in there in the fall I wouldn't have done him because he was a junior and we don't do juniors as a rule. But once you get past the bowl season and guys start declaring, you start watching tape and doing your homework. He is a very talented guy and he thinks he can play, which I think really good ones do.
(Are you surprised at all how quickly he has developed?)
He is still a young man. He'll have his ups and downs I'm sure. I think Ben (McAdoo) does a great job with him and that entire group, the tight end group. I like our group. I think it is a pretty strong group. Certainly Jermichael is kind of out in the front there.
(Last year you kept three fullbacks. It would appear that you have more than three good tight ends. I assume you don't want to pigeonhole yourself. Could you see yourself keeping an extra tight end?)
Right. I won't speak to that specifically other than in general, yeah, there is always some flexibility in your final roster in terms of what you have and what you need now to play. Obviously you have to have a certain number of guys just to be able to get through games and to get through a season, but yeah, there is some flexibility built into our rosters, sure. It's changed probably every year since I have been here in 2005. I would bet you the roster was a little different every year.
(Any thoughts on the reports that Favre won't come back and how that affects the division?)
I haven't thought of it. To tell you the truth somebody mentioned it to me out on the practice field, and I don't know anything about it. So we're just trying to get through this dog day before we get to our player day off tomorrow.
(But you do pay attention to the other teams in the divison, and if a team loses a Hall of Fame quarterback, it does change the dynamic of the division, doesn't it?)
Right, but this time of year I think you are more focused on your own team because your team is in the process, it's in the kitchen being cooked. We've got three or four weeks to kind of decide how our team is going to look, so I think you focus more on your own concerns.
(Were you surprised at the announcement?)
I don't have anything to add to this. I don't know anything about it.
(As an old special teams guy, are you watching the punting competition closely? Does that intrigue you?)
Sure, everything intrigues me. Yeah, I'm watching our team come together and watching the competition at all of the spots. Certainly that has been one that we have been watching. It looks like it is a pretty fair competition so far.
(Are you confident that one of those two guys is an NFL-caliber punter?)
We certainly think they have the talent to be an NFL-caliber punter, both of them. We'll see how that works out.
(Why is it so tough to find a punter in the league right now?)
I don't know. I think once you have one, then it's easy to kind of sit back and say these guys don't know what they are doing. If you do have one, it's a little different. When we had Craig Hentrich we were pretty fat and happy, and then sometimes it doesn't go that way. But we do feel like these two guys are putting on a good competition and we are looking forward to seeing them go through the next month.
(Any of those undrafted guys jump out at you?)
If they did, I wouldn't tell you anything about them.
(How about Quinn Porter?)
Yeah, he is getting a lot of reps. James has missed a few days, so he is getting a lot of reps. He looks like he works hard, plays hard, likes football.
(The perception I get from Justin Harrell is that he feels bad about not contributing these first few years. Do you get that feeling from him and how high do you allow your hopes to get?)
He is doing good. He has had some trouble with heat cramps the last couple of practices so we're trying to get that squared away. He carries with him the first-round tag, which is good on draft day because you get drafted and everybody says 'Yay' and you have a big party at your house. The expectations from the fans and people that he doesn't even know, I'm sure he probably gets comments from time to time. I think we have to have a certain amount of empathy. If you are trying the best you can and it's just not working or you kind of keep getting hurt or whatever it is, you haven't done anything wrong. It's just the expectations are a lot higher. Now with that comes some good things like contracts and things like that, so there is good and bad, but it's not just a one-way street.
(So do you think we will get to see what he is capable of?)
We hope so, we hope so. He has worked very hard this offseason. He has had a good camp so far and we'll see.
(Going back to when you signed Chillar, did you envision him moving around so much?)
Yeah, we did, quite frankly. We were pretty good at the linebacker position when we signed him. We felt at the time that he would be the kind of guy that could move to a number of different spots and you wouldn't go down in your ability to create production on the defensive side. I think he has very good versatility, he's a good athlete, and we're happy to have him
(Are you worried at all about Crosby, dealing with two new holders and not getting the results early on that maybe he wants?)
No, that will get itself worked out. Mason is a very good kicker in my opinion. Not that I am an expert, although I have kicked in the NFL. Four-for-four….extra points.
(What gives you so much confidence in him?)
I just think he has got the good mental makeup. He has got a very good leg and he has been productive and solid. And that is a little different; sometimes it is all mental, but it is different when you have different holders and you kind of rotate that through. Maybe I messed up by not paying enough attention to that.
(Was the decision not to bring in competition for him more about your confidence in Mason or more of a numbers game?)
We'll just leave it at the confidence in Mason. We think he is a good kicker. We're happy to have him as our kicker. But the 80-man roster certainly factors in. If you had a 100-man roster, you might have another guy, probably would.
(When you watch practice, you're watching the dynamic with the guys. How important do you think chemistry is? How do you see it coming together?)
I like the chemistry of our team. I think we've had good practices so far. We've had some competitive situations. For the most part, we ask our players to compete and play hard and play the game of football the way it's supposed to be played, but at the same time make sure they take care of each other. There are moments in time during a practice when a player is vulnerable, and I think our team does a pretty good job of taking care of each other in those regards. They don't take that cheap shot. They don't finish a guy off when he's in a bad spot. So in that regard, I think it's good. Now, there will be some testy times because after a few practices you kind of get tired of beating up, or getting beat up by the same guy all the time, so there will be fights from time to time, but I don't think that's anything out of the ordinary. I do think we have a good solid core team in terms of the people that make up our team, and I think that bodes well for us. But we'll see. The proof is in the pudding.
(With the Super Bowl talk, do you look at this team and feel the same way?)
I pretty much concentrate on trying to build the team up as best I can. What are you doing? Oh, you're filming this? Is that legal? It's a little unnerving. I'm concentrating on the team. Quite frankly, we're getting ready to play a very difficult game in Philadelphia opening weekend. That's kind of what we're pointed to, and then after that we'll worry about the next game. That's the way I look at it.
(So you try not to visualize the big picture so much?)
Yeah, that whole big picture thing, nobody knows. Everybody has to predict, but nobody knows how it's going to turn out.
(Did the Jones injury remind you that you might be a little thin on the outside?)
Well, I don't know. We've got some guys competing and seeing what they've got. Certainly we're counting on Brad being there and he'll be fine in a few days. But you always are a little concerned about your depth. It doesn't matter what position. If a receiver or running back or somebody else gets hurt, then you focus in on hat because you're a little bit more in a dangerous situation. As we've talked about before, sometimes when someone gets hurt, it's not that he gets hurt, but then you're putting the guys you have left at that position at greater risk because there's more exposure. I understand your question, but I think we're pretty good at outside backer.
(With Sitton, he's not a guy we write about a lot but he graded out really high on the line. How good do you think he is and how good do you think he's capable of being? Do you think you found a guy there in a later round that turned out to be a pretty darn good player?)
We look at him as a solid starter right now. He's still young, he's still growing. Having different people play around him, he's got to get used to that, because that happens during the course of a season. But we felt like he had a really solid season last year, and we think he's got a bright future. He's big, he's strong, he's athletic, and he's kind of a nasty guy.
(What about Breno? He's looked pretty good the first couple days of camp. Was it hard to be patient with him the last two years?)
That's just the way it works out. Especially at this position, development is not as quick as other positions. Case in point would be the running back position. That's a position that normally you have God-given ability, and if you can do it and hang onto the ball, if you can do it in high school or college, then there's a pretty good chance you can do it in the NFL. It's a little different in the offensive line. There are more little strategic things that you have to learn and technique things that you have to learn, and patience and all that. So I think offensive line takes a little more time normally. In the old days, you'd always get them and develop them and hardly ever would they play right away.
(What did you like about him that you felt it's been worth waiting for him?)
Well, like most of our offensive line, he was a left tackle. We felt like he was athletic and versatile enough to do a lot of things. Certainly we looked at him as more of an inside player, but we like the guys that can play out on the edge, and I think if you can do that it makes it a little bit easier to move you around.
(We know how important chemistry is to you. When a rookie comes in, is it tough to sell him the chemistry when they think they might be competing for a position or against some of their teammates for playing time?)
They are competing against their teammates. We talk to them every year, the rookies specifically at the rookie mini-camp, we have several discussions about how it's now grown-up time. They're competing against grown men for their jobs. At the same time we sell the fact that this is a team thing, and we're going to be successful or unsuccessful based on what the team does. I think players in general coming out of college adapt to that pretty good because most of the time they had the same relationship with their teammates back then.
(The Jolly case came to a resolution today. Could he possibly incur another suspension under the personal conduct policy since this indefinite one was under the substance abuse program?)
To tell you the truth, I'm not aware of the first part of your thing, and I have no knowledge of how that works. You'd have to address that question to the NFL. I don't know.
(As the guy who drafted Jolly, an in an organization that reminded Johnny more than a few times he needed to stay out of trouble, what was your personal reaction to the suspension and the troubles he's been going through?)
As with anybody, and I won't speak about Johnny specifically, because there are rules and regulations on what you can and can't talk about. But I was disappointed. I spoke at the shareholders meeting the other day, and I didn't specifically talk about that, but there were a couple of incidents that happened in the offseason and that was my responsibility as the head of football operations here. It's the kind of area that you're never probably perfect, but you always want to be perfect. That's what we're shooting for and we're going to try to be better in that regard. I was disappointed for him. I like Johnny, and I hope he comes through this OK.
(Is he on the reserve/suspended list?)
Yeah, I think so. It's the NFL thing.
(Are you going to entertain the thought of him playing for the Packers again?)
We're not going to speculate about that right now. Johnny's got a lot of work to do and we've got a lot of work to do here.
(Do you think he's Packer people?)
Again, I'm not going to throw dirt at Johnny. Johnny played good ball for us, and I'm a little disappointed in the situation we're in, but that's about the extent of it.
(You did stand by Koren when he went through his yearlong suspension and you did bring him back. Do you monitor Johnny during this process and keep in touch with him as much as you can under the league rules?)
I don't know how much you can and can't do, but whatever it is, if we can, then we will. But there's certain rules within the thing that I can't even go there because I don't know.
(The prosecutor down there put in the file that he had evidence that Johnny was participating in drug deals in Houston. Did you guys investigate that at all? Did it bother you to hear those kind of allegations about one of your players?)
I don't know anything about that. I can't comment on a criminal matter. We're just focused on what we're doing here.
(Do you guys traditionally look into these types of things?)
In general, we would look into all kinds of things as we approached drafts or as we approached signings and things like that, sure.
(Even once they're on the team?)
I don't know. We don't have a police force, no.
(You do have a security team. Other NFL teams send guys out …)
(What's your plan for Family Night? Where will you watch it and what are you watching for?)
I'm watching to see how the team reacts and how individual, especially the young guys, how they react to the lights and the action. See if they fit in, see if it's too big for them, see if they handle it well. We're looking to have a spirited exchange and no injuries and everybody's happy.
(Will you be on the field or up top?)
A little bit of both probably. It depends on the prevailing mood.