Green & Gold


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Packers trying to shore up defense

Pleased with the Packers’ draft, coach Mike McCarthy made a confident proclamation. Engrave it into the side of a foam cheesehead in large, green-and-gold type.

“We’re going to be a better defense this year,” McCarthy said. “You can write that in big letters.”

A glimpse at potential reinforcements comes Friday, when the team opens a two-day rookie minicamp. Green Bay took four defensive players in the NFL draft, starting with safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama in the first round.

The selection of Clinton-Dix with the 21st overall pick filled one of the most pressing needs on a defense that sagged as the 2013 season progressed. The Packers finished 25th in the league (372.2 yards per game).

In a perfect scenario for Green Bay, Clinton-Dix would be the playmaker needed at safety, a position at which the Packers failed to get an interception last year.


Abbrederis moving north

The Green Bay Packers kept one Wisconsin player in state, added a candidate to replace departed center Evan Dietrich-Smith, and got another outside linebacker to beef up the pass rush on the third day of the 2014 NFL draft.

“It’s all about building a 90-man roster,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We definitely got better the last few days.”

The home state crowd loved the Packers’ move with their second pick in the fifth round (No. 176 overall), taking University of Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis, who was a Packers fan growing up in Wautoma.

“We were a little surprised that he was there,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. “His first couple of years especially, he did everything but sell hot dogs.”

Abbrederis, a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, had 78 catches for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns last season for the Badgers.


Packers go receiver in 2nd round

Aaron Rodgers has a new weapon.

That’s a scary thought for NFC North defenses.

With the departure of wide receiver James Jones to free agency in the offseason, the Green Bay Packers opted for offense early in Day 2 of the NFL draft. The Packers selected Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams at No. 53 overall Friday night.

“He’s a complete football player, and that’s what stood out,” Packers wide receiver coach Edgar Bennett said.

The 6-0 7/8, 212-pound Adams broke 11 school records at Fresno State in two highly productive seasons. For his career, he tallied 233 catches for 3,030 yards and 38 touchdowns. As a redshirt sophomore last year, he had 24 touchdowns and 1,718 yards. In college, Adams wasn’t shy to catch a ball on any part of the field.


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