Sherman focused on coaching - period

Mike Sherman appeared before the media Tuesday for the first time since the June minicamp. He says he is refreshed from the summer break and anxious to get training camp under way. Of course, his team may start camp without some its top players, but Sherman, the coach, seems determined not to let that be a distraction, mainly because he is not Sherman, the general manager, anymore.

Sherman said that he is not concerned with the fact that wide receiver Javon Walker, tight end Bubba Franks and nose tackle Grady Jackson might not report to training camp with other veterans today. Walker and Jackson are unhappy with their contracts, and Franks currently does not have a contract in hand.

In the past four years, Sherman had to deal with those issues, but now he has left that in Ted Thompson's lap. Sherman is focused on coaching and working with the players who are on the field, and that's good for the Green Bay Packers.

"Because of the new position, you guys always ask the difference (between coaching and general manager)," Sherman said. "I guess that's the difference. I don't have to worry about that, and personally, I'm not. I'm looking forward to getting the guys ready to step in and do the jobs they have to do. The guys who are here are my focus. Not the guys that aren't. That's the biggest difference between last year and this year, probably."

The Packers have a fairly young defense and are seasoned on offense, especially if Franks signs a contract and Walker snaps out of his funk. Special teams, aside from the reliable Ryan Longwell, are always filled with young, ambitious players. Coaching will be a key if Green Bay is going to have a winning record and qualify for the playoffs this season. Sherman said Tuesday that he plans to continue to call the offensive plays, which he did for most of the second half of last season, and have a big hand in the offense, along with coordinator Tom Rossley. That's a good news, too, for Green Bay. The Packers were more efficient with Sherman calling the shots from the sideline instead of Rossley up in the press box.

Defensive coordinator Jim Bates has his hands full implementing his new scheme. How well the defense performs this season probably will determine the Packers' record. Sherman is more of an offensive-minded coach, but he will keep a close eye on the defense. He's doing all he can in practices to help that unit improve and making his presence known. For example, he read Ahmad Carroll the riot act for unnecessarily knocking wide receiver Donald Driver hard to the turf during a no-tackle scrimmage in the June minicamp.

Sherman was visibly more animated during many of the minicamp practices this season. Maybe Bates is rubbing off on him a little, maybe not. But it sure seems like Sherman, the coach, is much more focused and intense with the team than when he held the dual role. He is bound to carry the same mentality into training camp.

"I'm really looking forward to that first Friday practice, get on the field and get going. It's been a long off-season and I'm anxious to see the development of some of our younger players who will contribute, hopefully, to this season, and we certainly expect that, and also see our veteran players. We have a great core of guys who I truly believe in and am anxious to get back here and get going again."

Sherman is entering the final season of his current contract. At this point, he's a lame-duck coach with a lobster-like salary ($3.2 million this season). To his credit, he's making the best of the situation and remaining positive, at least publicly. "I think every year in the National Football League you're one a one-year contract, and you've got to prove yourself every year," Sherman said. "I'm anxious to play the season. I'm excited about our guys, excited about the start of the season. It seems like it's been a long off-season."

With full-squad practices just ahead, there is nothing but coaching in front of Sherman. That's good for the Packers.


Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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