Brady Poppinga Q&A

Intense linebacker talks about his love for hitting, approach to Organized Team Activities practices, new drill to create turnovers

If every member of the Green Bay Packers had the attitude and desire to play football like linebacker Brady Poppinga, the Packers would be Super Bowl contenders year after year. Unlike last year, Poppinga has been able to practice with the team this off-season after being forced to sit out and watch due to a season-ending knee injury in 2005.

Poppinga, entering his second full season as a starter and third overall in the NFL, played in all 16 games last season and started 12. He finished with 76 tackles, one sack and one interception.

Poppinga took time to answer questions from reporters after a recent Organized Team Activities practice:

Q: How would you characterize Organized Team Activities practices? Is it boring, tedious, stimulating, challenging?
Brady Poppinga:
"All of those in one. (smiles) It's the foundation for what you do. In addition to that, it's stuff that you've heard over and over and over again, so it is tedious, but it's challenging because I'm always trying to take that next step to mastering the next level and not become complacent. Even though it's stuff we've heard all the time, it's all in one – tedious, challenging – it's all in one. I enjoy it. I really do."

Q: Is there a lot to building chemistry in OTA's, or does that come in training camp?
"It can't hurt. You've got guys together, hanging out. I enjoy the camaraderie. It can't hurt."

Q: Is the comfort level a lot nicer for you to participate in practices after last year of having to sit out and watch until training camp?
"Well, being able to practice and train makes a big difference. To go out there and actually do what we're going to be doing on Sunday when it comes in September, instead of sitting out the whole time and being thrown into the mix of things at the last moment … it's a treat to me to be able to do this. Big difference for sure."

Q: What advice to you have for other players who are being forced to sit out because of injuries?
"It's better to be behind in terms of training and practice than to come back too early and hurt yourself again. Health is No. 1. Training and repetitions is secondary because if you're not healthy there's not even a chance that you'll get back to 100 percent, so you might as well chill out and not come back till you're 100 percent."

Q: Practice was a little frisky the other day. Is that because the team is so young and it lends itself to that kind of activity, even with no pads?
"It's the nature of the beast, man. We're here because we like contact. We're here because we like to hit each other. When they tell you you can't, it takes a whole element of the game away that I assume most people in here (locker room) love to do. The fact that they take the pads off and say, ‘OK, you can't really hit, but we want you to go hard' … there will be stuff that comes up like that. It's the nature of the game, and the nature of the guys playing the game. That's expected, and it's good because it gets a lot of pent-up energy out."

Q: Do you like the drill where a running back runs through a line of players who try to strip the ball from him?
"Of course, it's huge. Turnovers really determine the outcome of the game. When we're out there unconsciously trying to get the ball out, it will translate into turnovers. When it does translate into turnovers, our chances of winning increase, so it doesn't hurt. It gives you a chance to get a shot in (at the running back), even though you're not fully getting a shot it. … They've (coaches) made a real big emphasis on it."

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