GREEN BAY – It hasn’t been common for the Packers to add veteran players to their roster after OTAs have begun.
But the additions in the past week of tight end Marcedes Lewis and offensive lineman Byron Bell speak to new General Manager Brian Gutekunst’s desire to be “involved in every conversation,” as he put it this past winter, and he’s living up to it.
“There’s a pool of players that come available this time of year, and this is a market he wants to be active and aggressive in,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said prior to Thursday’s OTA workout.
“You’re always focused on the chemistry and culture of your locker room, and it’s an opportunity to improve. We think we’ve clearly done that this week.”
In Lewis, the Packers have added an accomplished in-line blocker who remains a significant red-zone threat in the passing game. Bell could have a chance to compete for a starting job at right tackle, depending on the recovery of longtime starter Bryan Bulaga from last season’s knee injury.
“I look at his addition to the offensive line to increase the competition,” McCarthy said. “It’s an opportunity for more depth. We’re going to take it slow with him probably this week and next week to get him acclimated.”
That process of getting up to speed is generally easier for veteran players, McCarthy said, because of the experience and “know-how” they bring.
There’s a different process taking place on the defensive side of the ball with the installation of new coordinator Mike Pettine’s playbook this spring.
McCarthy said the OTAs mark the third time the defense is going through the installations, after doing it once in each of the first two phases of the offseason program, which focused primarily on classroom and jog-through work.
Pettine’s principle of “K-I-L-L” – keep it likeable and learnable – is a daily focus.
“I really like the atmosphere around those guys,” McCarthy said of the defensive coaches. “The juice is good on the field. I think the coaching staff as a whole is bringing a ton of energy. That’s refreshing.”