Are the Packers rebuilding? Of course they are!

The "R" word has been mentioned a few times during press conferences at 1265 Lambeau Field in the last couple of weeks. It's funny how an NFL team is suddenly "rebuilding" in the eyes of the media and its fans after it loses a few games. The fact is NFL teams cultivate about one-third of their rosters each season, whether they win the Super Bowl or finish 3-13. They're always rebuilding, the Green Bay Packers included, but the Packers are rebuilding a little more than most other teams.

The Packers are definitely younger this season with 11 rookies on their roster. They entered Week 1 with as many as nine of their draft choices on the roster for the first time in modern history. Two rookies (safety Nick Collins and guard Will Whitticker) are in the starting lineup. The Packers are about a year younger on average than in 2004. The team is, in fact, inserting more youth into its lineup than it has in previous seasons.

Just because Brett Favre is the quarterback, doesn't mean that the Packers cannot rebuild. The Packers are basically rebuilding around Favre, with top pick Aaron Rodgers waiting in the wings.

The Packers, like other teams, have to rebuild to some extent each season because of the league-mandated salary cap and its ramifications. A team can afford to keep a core number of players, usually about a dozen or so, under long-term multi-year contracts. The rest of the squad plays from year to year, or week-to-week. This is the way of the NFL. It's the way of parity. It's what makes each season exciting and one of the top reasons why the game is so popular.

The Green Bay Packers are in the same boat as many teams in the league. For example, the Philadelphia Eagles, predicted by many to win the NFC this year, have 10 rookies on their roster. The Indianapolis Colts have nine rookies on their roster. Those two teams are expected to win, but they also are rebuilding at the same time. The Packers are no different.

There is such a fine line in talent from team to team that the difference between a win and a loss generally comes down to who makes the least mistakes. The Packers have lost their last two games by a total of three points, and were in position to win their season opener, but committing nine turnovers in those games is the difference between 0-3 and 3-0. It hasn't helped that the Packers also have committed costly penalties and have blown assignments that have led to touchdowns. It would be easy to blame it's because the Packers are playing too many younger players, but Favre, William Henderson, Ryan Longwell and Rob Davis, all salty veterans, were the main culprits in Green Bay's latest loss.

The Packers' next opponent, Carolina, has six rookies on its roster. By NFL standards, they are a "veteran" team, but they are 1-2. Quarterback Jake Delhomme has committed six of the Panthers' total turnovers. Favre has committed eight of the Packers' total turnovers. Get the picture?

Are the Packers rebuilding? You bet they are. However, that's not what players and coaches want to hear, which is a good thing.

``I would hate to think that as I'm playing that I would be willing to give in and say, 'OK, let's just sacrifice this season, this game for rebuilding purposes,''' Favre said. ``It's too important to me as a player to play every game to win and would hope that everyone around me has the same feeling.''

Coach Mike Sherman will flat out deny that the Packers are in a rebuilding state. Transition, he says, but not rebuilding. Whatever.

``Very seldom do you have a year like last year where we didn't lose an offensive player," Sherman said. "That doesn't usually happen -- ever. But this year, we lost a couple of offensive players, we lost a receiver, we've lost our tight end for a while here. This is transition. You get other guys in place, but I don't equate transition to rebuilding.''

The Packers have as much of a chance of winning games as they did in previous seasons because they will be playing teams in the same boat as them as far as rebuilding. The bottom line is Green Bay has to reduce its mistakes. In the meantime, the new personnel on the team will continue to adjust to each other.

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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