Green & Gold

Fri
25
Jul

Rodgers ready for even more responsibility

Since early in Aaron Rodgers’ tenure as the Green Bay Packers’ starter, three quarterbacks have stood above the rest in the NFL for their skill in the cat-and-mouse game with defenses at the line of scrimmage: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

Rodgers, at age 30, is bidding to join that group while operating in a scheme that coach Mike McCarthy has been designing for him for seven years.

Before Rodgers sustained a broken collarbone last year, the Packers thought he was becoming elite at calling audibles and making pre-snap reads. This year, McCarthy plans to have him run more no-huddle offense and take more responsibility changing plays at the line than ever.

“(Rodgers) runs our offense as well as any offense is run in the league,” Alex Van Pelt, the Packers’ new quarterbacks coach, said this offseason. “Put him right up there at the top of the list with those guys.”

The Packers are not the only ones who think so.

Fri
25
Jul

Defense in spotlight as Packers open training camp

When Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and the rest of the Packers are healthy, they might be able to beat anybody in the NFL.

Now if only they could stay out of that crowded trainer’s room.

Coach Mike McCarthy is preparing for the worst, just in case, after 2013’s injury-plagued season.

So come training camp Saturday, Green Bay will be getting used to schemes that have been simplified a bit — particularly on defense — in hopes of gaining more roster flexibility. The acclimation process started during offseason workouts.

“We’ve learned some hard lessons here of late,” McCarthy said. “The last couple of years of maybe playing some players that probably weren’t quite ready because of the scheme … we’re playing off utilizing your best players, and that’s a trap you just don’t want to fall into as a coach.”

Fri
25
Jul

McCarthy changing things up for Packers camp

Going into his ninth year coaching the Packers, Mike McCarthy isn’t averse to changing things up.

After two injury-filled seasons, an alteration is coming to how Green Bay prepares for games.

The practice schedule is changing, with players getting an off day, then running through practice the day before a game. That’s the reverse of how things were done last season.

“This is the first time the schedule is changing in nine years,” McCarthy said Friday as the Packers reported to camp. “This is the third year we’ve talked about it. I decided in spring to take the leap. We really just want to get that right and get our guys ready.”

McCarthy described it as a philosophical change. It’s another noticeable tweak following a 2013 season in which the Packers finished 8-7-1 and won a third straight NFC North title before losing at home in a wild-card game to the San Francisco 49ers.

Thu
24
Jul

Murphy hopes Favre visits Lambeau in '14

Flush with cash, the Packers have a 112,000 name-long waiting list for season tickets filled with die-hards eager to see a team that figures to be an NFC contender for years to come.

Under a bright blue sky, Green Bay team brass gave shareholders a rosy forecast Thursday for the future of the NFL’s only publicly-owned franchise.

About the only thing missing from this green-and-gold picture was former star Brett Favre swaggering on to the Lambeau Field turf to toss around a football with current franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Soon enough, that might just happen, too.

Team President Mark Murphy reiterated that he is hoping Favre returns to Lambeau Field for a game this year, though not to retire his No. 4 jersey just yet.

Thu
24
Jul

Fresh faces, familiar questions for Packers

The Green Bay Packers found themselves once again NFC North Division champions last season, if only by an Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass to Randall Cobb.

The Packers struggled without Rodgers for much of the season and only climbed back on top thanks to the help of division rivals the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, who missed many opportunities to eliminate the Packers from contention.

Can the Packers stay on top? That will largely be decided by the health of the team, a struggle for the Packers in recent years, and how these five questions are answered in the preseason.

Who starts at safety?

Ever since Nick Collins went down with a neck injury, the safety position has been, by far, the Packers’ biggest weakness.

Wed
18
Jun

Hayward putting injury behind him

Casey Hayward looked as if he hadn’t missed almost a full season to injury the way he extended for a one-handed interception.

Looked nice to the Green Bay Packers at minicamp Tuesday. They’d feel much better if the young cornerback can make those big plays again in the fall.

The secondary was re-stocked this spring with rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix drafted in the first round and third-year corner Hayward back on the field after playing just three games in 2013. Coach Mike McCarthy hopes they can be key contributors in a defensive resurgence.

“Every time Case is on the field, you can feel his presence. He’s a very competitive, very instinctive exceptional athlete. Ball skills — you could put him on offense,” McCarthy said.

Wed
18
Jun

Rodgers as competitive as ever

Aaron Rodgers dropped back and threw a high-arcing pass, the ball just skipping off the edge of a net stationed in the corner of the end zone about 20 yards away.

As the crowd swooned at Green Bay Packers minicamp Tuesday, the quarterback slapped his hands in disappointment as if he had just missed an open receiver for a touchdown at midseason. Going into his 10th year in the league, Rodgers is as competitive as ever in the offseason.

“It’s the opportunity to build team chemistry with the guys. It’s the challenge of beating up on Dom (Capers) and his defense,” said Rodgers, jokingly referring to the team’s defensive coordinator.

Thu
12
Jun

McCarthy likes Packers' energy, work ethic

The brief scuffle at Packers practice turned heads in the crowd. The dropped ball by a receiver during an offense vs. defense security drill drew roars from defenders.

The team has grinded through offseason workouts with a work ethic that coach Mike McCarthy says is one of the best he’s seen during his nine years as head coach in Green Bay. The energy is up.

“I’m not saying the other groups weren’t mature,” McCarthy said. “It just seems like this group is further ahead than we’ve been, and you can sense the energy.”

Caveat: It’s June, still more than six weeks from the start of training camp and three months from the start of the 2014 season. Almost every team feels good this time of year.

The Packers, of course, have a championship pedigree. Confidence that comes with winning three straight NFC North titles, and just a few seasons removed from winning the Super Bowl.

Tue
10
Jun

Big deal makes Shields core player for Packers

Cornerback Sam Shields’ position coach nearly cried when he let him know he had re-signed with the Packers. Shields’ mother bawled when she learned of the deal, and he bought her a house.

Signing a four-year, $39 million deal with a $12.5 million signing bonus can be a life-changing event, especially for a fifth-year undrafted cornerback who didn’t move to defense until his last year in college.

Now it’s time for Shields to assume the pressure that comes with a big deal.

“The reality of it is Sam is now looked on as one of our core players,” coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday. “So he’ll step up and play accordingly.”

Shields didn’t cry after agreeing to the contract in March.

“I promise I didn’t,” he said after a team workout. “It’s still … it’s like ‘Dang, wow.’ But I didn’t.”

Shields seems to be handling the attention well. He said he feels no extra pressure with the contract, and that he’s confident that his best years are ahead of him.

Tue
03
Jun

Nelson prefers to have deal before season

Even though the Green Bay Packers got a bargain the last time they signed Jordy Nelson to a contract extension, the veteran wide receiver said Tuesday he still would prefer to sign another deal before the season rather than playing out the final year of his contract.

Nelson, who caught 85 passes for 1,314 yards last season, both career bests, said he doesn’t know if his agent, Vann McElroy, and the Packers have had any meaningful conversations about an extension.

“He’s not going to just bug me with it,” he said. “He’ll let me know when it gets close.”

The last time Nelson, a second-round pick in 2008, was in a contract year was in 2011, when he signed a three-year, $13.989 million extension in October. That deal included $5 million in guaranteed money, including a $3.5 million signing bonus. That deal paid Nelson a base salary of $2.7 million last year, and calls for him to make a base salary of $3.05 million in 2014.

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