Veterans go back to school

While students of all ages around the country are looking forward to a summer of fun in the sun, many of the Green Bay Packers are hitting the books cramming Mike McCarthy's new offensive scheme. That includes veterans like Brett Favre and William Henderson.

Favre admitted in his press conference today that learning the new system has been a challenge, but he is determined to get it down before the start of training camp on July 28. McCarthy is utilizing a West Coast offense, but with a few variations from the West Coast offense under ex-Packers coaches Mike Sherman, Ray Rhodes and Mike Holmgren.

"It's challenging," Favre quickly quipped when asked how he is handling the terminology of the offense. "Before Mike (McCarthy) came and took over, the terminology has remained the same, up until now. It's been a big challenge. ‘Strong right' last year is something totally different than ‘Strong right' this year. That's just giving you a minor example. So, when I hear ‘Strong right' I'm thinking it's something from last year, or the year before, or the year before that. The only thing that has remained the same has been ‘Green right.' I can handle that part of it.

"For the most part the concepts are the same. You recognize a play, but it's getting it out in the huddle. That's the problem. For me, it's getting so that when I hear it, I know exactly where everyone (has to line up). It's like the two-minute drill (in practice today). That's a different two-minute drill than I've done in a while not to mention trying to get some of these plays out. For example, we have a call (named) ‘Pennsylvania' which means … I'm not sure what it means, but I completed it today so that's a positive. You see where I'm coming from?"

As you can tell, Favre has a way to go before he'll get the terminology down. That's one of the reasons why McCarthy scheduled 14 Organized Team Activities practices, which continue until June 21.

Favre isn't the only one learning on the run. Henderson is in the same boat.

"It's challenging because you're trying to process it," Henderson said. "Right now we're in the learning stages. It's different when you've known it and you're kind of reacting. Now you're kind of learning. It's a little more time-consuming in between plays, but that's what this game is all about – being able to adjust on the run and learn quickly."

Plays that used to roll off of Favre's tongue in the huddle are taking a little more time to spit out. Fortunately for the veteran quarterback and the rest of the team, it's only June, and there are eight OTA practices remaining. Favre didn't say specifically today how many he plans to attend, but probably the majority in order to get the terminology down.

"I've never slept in a meeting, and I know I won't now," said Favre. "I have to get this down. I have to call the plays, so to be able to translate that to those guys, I have to know it inside and out.

"I have to admit, sometimes I wish it was the old way, but it is what it is."

McCarthy has used the OTA practices to install the bulk of the plays that the Packers will use this season. He may add a few more in training camp, or tweak some plays, according to Favre, but the current practices serve as a place for the players to learn the new scheme.

Henderson said that some of the calls might be the same as in recent years, but the meaning and execution is much different.

"Brett and I were actually having a conversation on how some of the words are so similar with the call like "Green vs. Queen" and how that will translate with all the crowd noise, but we're going to learn it and get it down as quickly as we can."

Offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski insists that the new scheme is not as complicated as you might think.

"No, if it is I couldn't coach it," Jagodzinski said. "It's got to stay simple. The more base offense that you can run, with your base schemes, the better off you are."

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