McCarthy eager to build from within

With the departures of some of the team's free agents, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said today he is optimistic that younger players will make most of opportunities to advance up the team's depth chart.

As long as the Green Bay Packers continue to remain dormant in free agency, the window of opportunity will be wide open for a number of younger players. And that's just fine with Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

While many feel that the Packers might sign a veteran running back, or tight end, or safety to help patch weak areas on the roster, it appears at this point in the off-season that general manager Ted Thompson is in no hurry. If Thompson opts to use the draft to fill needs, McCarthy is all for it.

"What I notice about our guys is 90 percent of them are young, and young players improve," McCarthy told reporters Saturday morning at the team's annual Fan Fest. "You cannot give up on young players. They need to be given as much opportunity to succeed. A lot of our guys haven't been given an opportunity yet. They're here for a reason. We're not just keeping them on the depth chart to fill a spot. They're here for a reason. We're creating opportunities, and I feel good about the guys we have here right now. These next four months are critical to the development of our football team."

McCarthy was referring to the team's off-season workout program, which begins March 19. The coach, who is entering his second season at the helm of the Packers, said that 75 players have committed to the four-month program, which he called "the most important time for our football team."

Many of those players will be free agents hoping to land a roster spot and second or third-year players that were deep on the depth chart last season. Tight ends Donald Lee, Tory Humphrey and Zac Alcorn; running backs Vernand Morency and Noah Herron, and safeties Marviel Underwood and Tyrone Culver will have a chance to get a jump on moving up the depth chart through the workout program.

The Packers lost a pair of veterans - running back Ahman Green (Houston) and tight end David Martin (Miami) – to free agency. Green Bay also released veteran fullback William Henderson. Thus far, the Packers have taken a few fliers on other veteran free agents, but have yet to sign anybody to shore up those positions.

"You have a level of experience, you have a level of ability, you have a level of productivity at every position that you have," McCarthy said. "We're with those guys all the time. Some of the best players that played the game … all they needed was an opportunity. Look at Brett Favre. You go back to some of the greatest careers that were ever established. There was a guy in front of him that got injured. Maybe if (Don Majkowski) never got injured, (Favre) doesn't play.

"Once again, you've got to keep drafting and keep at it. There is no position on that board that I say, ‘Hey, we're set at' or ‘Oh, my God, we've got to get more people.' I want competition at every position. It's valuable."

The Packers had the youngest roster in the National Football League last season, even with Favre, long snapper Rob Davis and Henderson. At this pace, Thompson and McCarthy appear that they want to keep the roster as young as possible.

Todd Korth

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

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