Jordan Tripp won a minicamp-ending game of egg toss on Thursday.
In six weeks, he’ll be taking aim at a much bigger trophy: starting inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.
Tripp, with coaching administrator Omar Young, were the last pair standing in an, ahem, over-easy ending to minicamp. The game started with players standing 5 yards apart. With each successful toss, the players moved back 1 yard. Later, the remaining pairs moved back 5 yards. The game ended with Young moving forward a few yards to catch a toss from Young that traveled about 35 yards.
“Hey, you’ve got to have soft hands,” a victorious Tripp said in the locker room. “I had a good guy throwing it, so we’re good.”
Afterward, to prove to coach Mike McCarthy and others who jokingly wondered whether Tripp and Young were playing with a hard-boiled egg, Tripp “threw it up and let it splat on the ground, just to prove to everybody that we just had soft hands.”
It was a fun ending to an important offseason for Tripp, a fourth-year pro who was signed by the Packers on Dec. 14 after stints with Miami, Jacksonville and Seattle. Tripp got a crash course in defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ scheme at the end of last season but this was his first time to really dig into the playbook.
“It’s huge. Once you get into the season, it’s more game plan. It’s more, ‘What are we going to do to stop their attack with what we do best?’” Tripp said. “Right now, you’re more able to focus on your technique, fundamentals and execution so, once you get to the season, that stuff’s second nature and you’re anticipating more rather than thinking about your job responsibility.”
Tripp played in two regular-season games and all three postseason games, contributing four tackles on special teams during the playoffs. This year, he’s eyeing a much bigger role in a position group that includes veteran holdovers Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez and Joe Thomas.
“Yes, yes, yes. Absolutely. You have to,” Tripp said about pushing for a starting job. “If you don’t, you probably shouldn’t be here. If you don’t see yourself as being the best, then I think that’s an issue. You have to strive to be the best you can be but, ultimately, you want to be a starter in this league.”
Tripp’s attitude was pointed to by position coach Scott McCurley and defensive tackle Mike Daniels. Daniels’ praise was noteworthy, since it came during a question about what veteran free-agent acquisitions Ricky Jean Francois and Martellus Bennett add to the team. Tripp played in seven games with one start for Seattle’s powerhouse defense last season before he was placed on injured reserve and ultimately released.
So what does Tripp add to the mix?
“I think the same thing that a couple of those other guys bring, and that’s a certain type of attitude, culture and going about your business a certain way,” Tripp said. “Both Ricky and Martellus are very competitive, very gritty. They like to joke and have fun but when they step on the field, it’s all business. That’s what the culture is here. Both are very accountable. Even a guy like Aaron (Rodgers), I’ve never met someone who’s so accountable and who goes about his business in a way that, ‘I’m going to get it done and I’m going to succeed.’ That’s the overall culture that (general manager Ted) Thompson brings in here. It’s come in, take care of your business and know your role and hold yourself accountable. I believe that’s what I bring.”
Not to mention a pair of soft hands.
“It was a good cherry on top,” Tripp said. “Coach is really in tune with what’s going on. It was nice to catch a bone like that. You can only do those things when we all come together and take care of business every day. Ultimately, that’s what it is. We’ve got to come back ready to roll.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.