Tuesday, June 10, 2014
McCarthy, Rodgers like vibe from this team
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There are a few things NFL players and coaches try to sell at this time of year: Everyone is in the best shape of their careers and team chemistry could not be better.
So keep that mind when you hear what came out of the Green Bay Packers' organized team activities (OTAs) session on Tuesday.
Coach Mike McCarthy called his team the most mature group he has had in his nine seasons as the head coach, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke glowingly about the positive vibe he has gotten from the offseason program so far.
"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."
Even McCarthy conceded that "there's always new energy, everybody in the league has the same goal at this time of the year." In the next breath, however, he says he pays close attention to the mood, energy level and work ethic of his team.
"I think our veterans are doing a great job acclimating our young guys," McCarthy said. "I see that going on more and more. I think you're seeing more player interaction as far as what goes on on the field. Guys self-correcting, and a lot more proactive as far as sharing information. This is how you need to do this, this is how you need to do that. Those are good things. I see more of it this year."
Perhaps it has helped that attendance has been near perfect during the so-called voluntary OTAs.
"I think that's really important," Rodgers said. "Since Mike has been here, we've been a team with usually really good attendance in the offseason."
Rodgers acknowledged that part of that could be how the Packers structure so many contracts, with sizable workout bonuses to help lure players to Green Bay in the offseason. Remember, the Packers have the highest potential payout on workout bonuses in the NFL this offseason at $4.3 million.
"The joke is that it's voluntary-mandatory workouts, but this is the time where you can really get better," Rodgers said. "And I think guys make the most of those opportunities."
The Packers are in their final week of OTAs. They have their lone mandatory minicamp next week before a five-week break prior to the opening on training camp on July 26.
"This team has a different feel, as every team is different," Rodgers said. "Just talking with Mike today, you sense kind of the hunger that we have, which is exciting. The locker room is a little louder than maybe it's been in the last few years, and I think that's just an influx of energy that we have and a general excitement for what we're doing."