Packers notebook

Chillar fills a pressing need; Favre ceremony; Rodgers goes mushing; McCarthy to get hitched

The Packers addressed perhaps their most pressing of just a few needs when they signed former St. Louis Rams linebacker Brandon Chillar.

Chillar, a four-year veteran, sided Green Bay's offer of two years and $5.4 million after he also was hotly pursued by Arizona. Chillar also stands to gain an additional $1 million in playing incentives.

In making the 6-foot-3, 242-pound Chillar his first acquisition of the offseason, general manager Ted Thompson has set the stage for a competition for a starting job.

Chillar excelled in a full-time role at strong-side linebacker the last two seasons with the Rams. Now, he'll get the opportunity to overtake Packers incumbent Brady Poppinga.

Poppinga has held down the starting role for two years, but he has been a liability in pass coverage.

Chillar has good ball skills for the position. He had four pass breakups last season, when he further showed a nose for the football with career highs of 85 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

The Packers still value the tenacious Poppinga as a capable contributor on defense and have reportedly been in discussions about extending his contract. Poppinga, a fourth-round draft pick in 2005, enters the final year of his rookie contract.

If Chillar were to wrest the starting job at linebacker, Green Bay could be inclined to make use of Poppinga as a situational pass rusher. Poppinga was primarily a defensive end in college at BYU.

"I think a lot of people overlook is that I was a D-end in college," Poppinga told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I've just improved and improved. I can just offer so much to this team, and they know that. I'm only going to get better."

Favre ceremony date soon to be set
The date and the opponent won't be known until early April, when the NFL releases the 2008 schedule, but the Packers are planning to put recently retired quarterback Brett Favre's No. 4 out of commission at one of their regular-season home games.

New Packers president Mark Murphy said he filled Favre in on the team's plans.

"I think he was honored," Murphy said.

Favre's number will be the sixth retired by the 90-year-old organization, the NFL's oldest franchise.

The others are 3 (Tony Canadeo), 14 (Don Hutson), 15 (Bart Starr), 66 (Ray Nitschke) and 92 (Reggie White).

Rodgers goes mushing in Alaska
Favre's successor, Aaron Rodgers, tried his hand at a different sport less than a week before he returned to Green Bay for the start of the team's offseason workout program.

Rodgers was in Fairbanks, Alaska, to participate in a sled-dog race March 12. Rodgers took a turn manning the helm of a two-man, 11-dog sled in the Jeff Studdert Passenger Race, which was part of the Open North American Championship.

When asked by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner whether there's a correlation between mushing and professional football, Rodgers responded, "You're remembered for your wins."

McCarthy to tie the knot
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy apparently was ready to make the offseason a blissful one.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported March 14 that McCarthy, 44, and girlfriend Jessica Kress had recently purchased a marriage license in Maricopa County, Arizona. A wedding date wasn't known.

Kress accompanied McCarthy, who was previously married, and his daughter to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl in February. McCarthy and his staff were the coaches for the NFC team.

Incidentally, Kress is the ex-wife of William Kress of Green Bay, who sits on the Packers' board of directors.

Getting pumped for 2008 season
The Packers began their offseason workouts March 17, with the arrival of the quarterbacks and their first- and second-year players. The older players will report for workouts March 31.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think 'fill' is the right word. I think Aaron Rodgers will be Aaron Rodgers. I think he's very confident in his abilities. I don't think you ever replace or try to fill someone of Brett's stature, what he meant to the organization, what he meant to the NFL, all of those different things. Aaron's just got to continue to stay focused on who he is. I think that's going to end up being a very good situation."
-- Defensive end Aaron Kampman on Aaron Rodgers trying to fill the shoes of retired quarterback Brett Favre

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