Hey, Aaron, Coach Has Message

For the second time, coach Mike McCarthy said he sees a value in the informal workouts that numerous quarterbacks around the league are leading. Aaron Rodgers, however, has not taken the lead in organizing practices for the defending champions.

From future Hall of Famers like Tom Brady to untested rookies like rival Minnesota's Christian Ponder, numerous quarterbacks around the league have organized workouts with their teammates.

Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, saying it's a challenge to get his far-flung teammates to agree on a time and place to practice, hasn't done so yet with the Green Bay Packers.

Perhaps he should to appease his boss.

"I think there's value any time a group of players get together," coach Mike McCarthy, echoing what he said in an interview last month, told a few reporters at his celebrity golf tournament on Monday at Green Bay Country Club. "The ability to work out, the group dynamics involved in these types of sessions are healthy. That's more about team building and helping the younger guys and developing as a group. How much of it and which positions and so forth, it really varies from team to team, but I think there's definitely value when people do get together."

McCarthy dodged the question when asked if he'd like to see his team organize practices, saying that he had "trust" and belief that his players would be ready to roll whenever the lockout ends and practice can begin.

On Sunday, 24 members of the team — including Rodgers — played in Donald Driver's charity softball game. While Rodgers bolted immediately after the game and was not available to reporters, most of the players contacted said they were not going to stick around, other than to go to Milwaukee to play in Greg Jennings' charity golf tournament on Friday.

"I know a lot of guys are getting antsy, but we're professionals," Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins said on Sunday. "We know what we need to do to stay in shape. Once we get that call, (we'll) be ready for training camp. Right now, A-Rod is the leader. If he wants to call and get something going, we're right there for him. Right now, everybody's kind of doing what they've been doing. It's been successful for us so we're going to keep doing what we're doing."

Added running back Ryan Grant: "There's been a little communication today to try to get on the same page regarding what we're going to do. It's a little different location-wise because we don't have a lot of guys that live around here. But I think we'll work something out if need-be. It starts with our quarterbacks and everything, and I know Aaron will get on the same page."

While some of the offensive linemen recently gathered in Tennessee at Scott Wells' urging and kicker Mason Crosby and punter Tim Masthay have been kicking at nearby St. Norbert College, an argument can be made that the lockout isn't a bad thing for the Packers. Their roster likely will come back mostly intact and only a little shuffling was done on the coaching staff. The big losers, as McCarthy pointed out during a national radio interview last month, not only are the rookies but the players entering their second seasons, when he said players make their biggest gains.

"Me going into my second year, it's definitely going to affect me going into this year," tight end Andrew Quarless said. "I really was more concerned about getting my hands on that playbook. When the lockout was off for a day, and I was able to speak to (position) coach (Ben McAdoo), he was ready to give me the playbook, and then the next day I couldn't speak to him. I was anxious to get my hands on that playbook. That's really what I'm concerned about."

Sunday's game was the first time fourth-round cornerback Davon House had met any of his new teammates. He's communicated by phone and text with fellow cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Sam Shields and met corner Pat Lee at the game. He was looking forward to meeting Charles Woodson, who was expected to play but was a no-show.

"As soon as the lockout's over," House said, "there's going to be a lot of (talking) — probably too much talking for me, and I've got to start doing some listening more than anything."

McCarthy said he stayed up late to see TV highlights of Driver's softball game so he could see his players for the first time since their post-Super Bowl celebration at Lambeau Field a couple days after the game. The next big event is June 16, when the league is allowing the team to gather to get their Super Bowl rings.

"To me, the ring ceremony is what it's all about," McCarthy said. "You have an opportunity to talk to former players and coaches that have been through the Super Bowl experience, that's when it comes together. It's been very disjointed just for a number of different reasons coming off the season, the labor situation, you don't feel like you're in a normal routine. Personally, I don't know if it's really hit me yet. I think it will hit me that evening because you don't really have the opportunity to celebrate as a team where if you were in a normal offseason program, you'd have the opportunity to be around most of your players and relive the experience and have the interaction that you'd normally have with any group of people after you accomplish something. I'm really looking forward to the ring ceremony as I'm sure everybody is for a number of different reasons, more importantly just to get together as a football team and as an organization."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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