Sydney Speaks! Who is really committed?

The Green Bay Packers began their Organized Team Activities practices this week without a number of veterans. Former Packers fullback and assistant coach Harry Sydney explains why he is disappointed that so many familiar faces are nowhere in site at Clarke Hinkle Field.

This is the time when Mike McCarthy finds out just who he can count on. The camp that the Packers are holding this month is totally voluntary and there is no real punishment for not attending except it just puts a question mark by the name of those that aren't here.

As I see it this was a 4-12 team, and even though you and I might be able to pencil in some of the starters, wouldn't you think that with a new coach and a new system that some of the key veterans would make more of an effort to show up and learn more about the offense or defense? How about just getting to know the head coach and your position coach more. As a former professional athlete I can't see anything more important than being at a team function, even though it isn't mandatory. Hats off to Brett Favre for showing up and getting some work in. If he can clear off his schedule and show the importance of being at camp, so can some of the other veterans.

If you have read my articles about Brett Favre I have never questioned his willingness to compete. I know how much he wants to be the best and to come to Green Bay and participate when he didn't have to, but wanted to, speaks volumes about him still having that burning passion to take the Packers to the promised land. Guys like Aaron Kampman understand that last year wasn't good enough. When you hear him talk you can tell that he can't wait for the season to start so he can try to erase that bad taste from mouth. Then I look at some of the rookies and second-year players that are out at practice doing everything they can to soak up as much knowledge as they possible can because they understand the opportunity that they have. I can see the hunger in their eyes. Then I asked myself, ‘Where are the other big-money guys?'

The coaches, especially McCarthy, wishes that he had every player on the roster at camp, but that didn't happen. As a coach the philosophy is that they will coach whoever is at practice because that's all that they can do. Players like these camps because everything is slowed down. This camp isn't about how many plays they get, it's about understanding what is expected of them on each play. It's a time when film study is vital. For example, for a young receiver like someone like Leo Bookman is allowed to take his time and learn how to do it right. He can work on when and where to line up; he can work on his releases; he can work on his route running because there are just simple differences between college and the pros such as where the hash marks are as well as getting an opportunity to work with Favre and Aaron Rodgers and pick their brains. Talk about taking advantage of a situation! That's what this type of camp is all about. It's where the players really get to know what's expected of them before the bullets are live at training camp when they put the pads on. It's also a camp where the coaches get to size up the players and see their strengths and weaknesses and gage each player's learning curve. This is important because a successful coach has to learn how each of his players think or grasp information. The coaches also learn what buttons to push to motivate them to reach their full potential because each play is different. There is so much that can come out of this camp.

So as you can tell I am somewhat disappointed in some of the veterans that haven't showed up yet because they didn't seem to place any importance in this camp. I understand that some guys have other obligations at this time but what about priorities? Some guys are traveling, vacationing, whatever, but the fact is that they are only allowed to do these things and have a great lifestyle because football has been very good to them. And because of having a new system, new head coach, new assistants and last year going 4-12, everyone on the roster should be attending this camp especially new guys and young players. There are no excuses that would have allowed Nick Collins, Ryan Pickett or Charles Woodson to not be in camp. Matter of fact before I would have signed them I would have made it mandatory that they be at every camp. The only guys that would have been excused would be guys in the same situation as A.J. Hawk because I know he wants to be at camp, but it's out of his control. So part of Mike McCarthy's next step is to really find out just WHO IS REALLY COMMITTED???????

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to managing editor Todd Korth at, and he will forward it to him.

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