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Work toward 'next step' starts now for Packers

Defense begins replacing handful of departures


GREEN BAY—The message from Mike McCarthy was a pretty simple one on the first day of the Packers' offseason workouts.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," defensive lineman Mike Daniels said, recapping the team meeting on Monday that kicked off the new year. "We just have to take that next step. There's not really any grand message, except for, 'Hey, let's get to work.'"

That work on defense begins with a number of longtime Packers no longer around. Linebackers A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore, along with cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House, have all left Green Bay for other teams.

Their absences didn't alter the vibe of excitement and optimism in the locker room, though. Change creates opportunity.

"The guys that left, we're going to miss those guys," said safety Morgan Burnett, who referred to Williams as the "big brother" to the entire secondary. "But that's what the NFL is about. It's about the next man up."

Burnett, a playoff captain last season, is the new elder statesman in the defensive backfield, along with cornerback Sam Shields. Daniels would have assumed that title on the defensive line if not for the recent re-signings of veterans B.J. Raji and Letroy Guion.

"What they bring to the weight room, practice, the locker room, that's something money can't buy," Daniels said. "B.J. is hungry and he's ready to go."

The offseason program runs from now through the mandatory minicamp in mid-June. Everything is voluntary until the minicamp, but the Packers traditionally have a high participation rate throughout the spring.

Burnett said that's not solely because many players have financial incentives to join in.

"I feel here we have a close bond," he said. "Once we leave the locker room, guys are still together. We have a brotherhood in that locker room."

Added Daniels: "It's your brothers. You miss your brothers."

Daniels is one of the few who stays in Green Bay throughout the offseason, and he said it's "kind of creepy" to come to Lambeau and work out when most of the lockers are empty and there are only a few guys around.

That all changed on Monday, and Daniels couldn't have been happier.

"To have the locker room real lively again, it's awesome," he said. "I love it. It's good to see everybody, and everybody looks like they've been working."


The Packers offseason program, which runs from now through the mandatory minicamp in mid-June, opened on Monday. Photos by Matt Becker and Tyler Gajewski/

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