Flurry of activity at 1265 Lombardi

Packers have changed quickly in last six days

What a week it has been for Packers' fans. For anyone who may have blinked since last Tuesday, here is a quick recap of the big events that took place:

1. Brett Favre announced he is coming back for another season.

2. Prize free agent Charles Woodson joined the Packers.

3. A.J. Hawk was selected in the first round (No. 5 overall) with the Packers' highest pick since 1992.

4. General manager Ted Thompson made five trades during the two-day draft including one dealing Javon Walker to the Broncos. The Packers started the draft with seven picks and finished it with 12.

Go ahead and take a deep breath. It may be needed just to continue on with the rest of the so-called off-season. What has happened to the Packers in a span of just six days is enough news to fill an entire year. With the fast and furious activity at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, the Packers have gotten better in at least two of three areas.

Team morale boosted With two words on April 25, Brett Favre gave many Packers' fans and teammates the answer they had been waiting for. "I'm in," said the future Hall of Fame quarterback to head coach Mike McCarthy, finally letting the Packers know that he will be returning for another season. A decision that had been under months of consideration now gives the Packers more stability and a clearer plan moving forward to the 2006 season. It also gives fans and the team hope that maybe next year will not just be another "rebuilding year."

On draft weekend the Packers got smart, tough football players that will fit well in the Green Bay community according to Thompson. They also rid themselves of one player, Walker, who did not want to be in Green Bay.

Hawk, by all accounts, is a no-nonsense type of player that Packers' fans and teammates will gravitate to. The 11 picks that came after him are packaged in a similar mold.

Trading Walker for a second-round pick hurts the Packers' offense, but also relieves them of what could become a potentially draining, Mike-McKenzie-type situation. Now they can go into training camp without that distraction.

Defense improved on paper
Losing defensive coordinator Jim Bates was tough for the Packers, and they will have to recover from that to continue to make strides. Bob Sanders will be asked to take the defense to another level, and he should dealing with better personnel.

Woodson's addition to the Packers last week brings a solid veteran to the roster at a position of need. After two years at cornerback, former first-round pick Ahmad Carroll still has not gotten it and is expected to be replaced by Woodson. With Al Harris at the other corner, Woodson gives the Packers a Pro Bowl-caliber tandem.

Acquiring Hawk and Abdul Hodge (third round) through the draft immediately upgrades the linebacker position and will provide for some intense competition. Two of the three linebacker positions will be manned by new, improved players. Hawk is expected to start on the weak side with a host of other young players battling for the strong side spot. Nick Barnett will again be at the middle linebacker position.

Offense still needs help
Yes, the return of Favre is a boost to the offense, but only if he can turn around a mistake-laden season of a year ago. With as much ability as he still has left, he cannot do it alone any more. He needs to alter his approach somewhat to avoid a repeat of a year ago.

Losing Walker is a serious blow to the Packers' offense because it takes their top play-maker away. His production will be sorely missed this upcoming season, though his public relations antics will not.

So what do the Packers' do to replace Walker's talent? They have to hope that younger players can contribute immediately. Of the Packers' offensive draft picks, only second-round choice Greg Jennings offers hope of an immediate playmaker at receiver. Other free agent signings at receiver appear to be more of the role player variety.

The draft added depth on the offensive line with the selections of Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, and Tony Moll and at quarterback with Ingle Martin, but did little to answer immediate questions. The above players appear more suited for long-term success, and the Packers need improvement along the interior line this season.

The Packers did not draft a running back or tight end and are relying on players coming off injuries a year ago. Thus, those positions have not been upgraded at all.

Matt Tevsh

Editor's note: Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.

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