Packer Report chat transcript

You had questions and Bill had answers as we spent most of our Monday chat talking about the rookies. Our next chat will be held on Monday night, May 25.

In the rookie minicamp which rookie impressed you?

Bill: Beyond the obvious ones of Raji and Matthews, I'd say Brandon Underwood and Jarius Wynn. I didn't understand drafting Wynn, but at least from what I saw, there's some ability there. I preface that by saying it's a rookie camp, and most of the guys there won't make the roster.

Have you sensed that Ted Thompson is getting more love from Packer fans?

Bill: I was during the draft, but now that the Favre stuff has started again, I'm hearing a lot of the same old stuff. If Favre really does play for Minnesota, I wonder if that will help Thompson's popularity among the on-the-fence fans.

Did you hear the comments Nick Collins made about his contract during the Tailgate Tour?

Bill: Yeah, and I'm not surprised. I wrote last week that Collins' "unhappiness" was a bunch of nothing. If he's missing during OTAs, then that's something. But that he came up for the offseason program and is now on the Tailgate Tour, I think that says enough. It's May. There's plenty of time to get a contract hammered out.

When the players come back on the 17th of May, will you guys that cover the Packers be able to be there?

Bill: We get one day of access per week for the OTAs. I'm not sure why they have to be so secretive about everything. It's not just the media who aren't allowed to watch the rest of the time, but it's the fans. It's a shame from their standpoint. Those offseason practices draw a decent crowd.

What will you be watching?

Bill: A lot of defense. After watching the 4-3 for so long, I want an education about the 3-4. I want to see Raji against the starting linemen, and, of course, who is lining up at right tackle. Lot of interesting stuff going on this offseason. I guess you can say that about every offseason, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how Raji measures up and if they have a decent right tackle on the roster.

Who do you think will end up being Aaron Rodgers' backup?

Bill: I'd say Matt Flynn. He at least showed me something last year, and I can't say that Brohm's arm is all that much stronger. Flynn just looks like he gets it. I guess that's why he won a national championship when JaMarcus Russell couldn't.

When they had the rookie minicamp, what were your impressions of Clay Matthews?

Bill: He looked really good. Really athletic and really smart. I think you could bring Joe Blow in off the street and he'd figure out that the guy in the No. 52 had a little something special about him. Again, he was going up against a bunch of guys who won't make the team, so it's hard to draw much of a conclusion. He leveled some running back at one point in what are supposed to noncontact drills. I heard a lot of yelling and I think it was Kevin Greene and I think he was fired up, but I can't say for certainty.

What is the new strength and conditioning coach like?

Bill: Dave Redding is an interesting guy. You'd think a strength and conditioning coach would be all fiery and yelling and screaming and going 100 mph. And maybe he's something like that around the players. But when he's talked to us, he's kind of mellow. He's someone that you'd listen to, though. He's in the strength and conditioning hall of fame (who knew there was one of those?) and he's been in the league a long time. Clay Matthews' dad was with the Browns when Redding was there. He grew up a Packers fan, which is a nice bonus. He's said that when he was a kid, he'd run around in his Nebraska jersey and Packers helmet. When they both won, he'd be happy on Monday. When they both lost, he'd be depressed.

What is Dom Capers like?

Bill: I like Dom. He's one of the coaches who really speaks his mind. While some people downplay whether Raji needs to start and contribute as a rookie, Capers made no bones about it. Raji has to be a contributor. I can't imagine why a player wouldn't play hard for him. His track record is so sound that I think the players will follow his lead. I can't say that was the case with Bob Sanders when things started going wrong last year. Not that they didn't play hard for Sanders. I just think maybe there were some doubts about his ability to turn things around, and at the end, they couldn't turn things around.

Do you think that the fullback that the Packers drafted from LSU will give Korey Hall and John Kuhn a run?

Bill: I would be very surprised if Quinn Johnson's not starting. Maybe not right off the bat, but by the end, he'll be the guy. Hall and Kuhn just haven't provided the pop you want from your fullback. Johnson brings that hammer.

If Clay Matthews III fails, is TT done in GB?

Bill: Well, if Clay fails but the Packers win 10 games, then no. But I certainly see your point. They gave up a lot to get him, at least on paper. I did that story with the scout the other day, and he said that in a year or two, compare Matthews to linebackers Everette Brown and Clint Sintim and cornerback Darius Butler. If Matthews is the best of the linebackers and Butler wouldn't have developed into a replacement at cornerback, then it was a good trade. If not, it wasn't, because Butler, Brown and Sintim would have been on the board with the Packers' pick at 41. The third round, at least on paper when these guys have never played a down in the NFL, was really slim pickings. We'll see in a couple years.

How do you see Atari Bigby doing in the new defense?

Bill: I think he'll be fine, but he's also never put together a full season as a quality starter. He grew into that role by the end of 2007. The defense was a mess without him last year. I know the Steelers play Polomalu at the line of scrimmage a lot, and I can see Bigby in that role. Not that Bigby is Polomalu, but I think he's got the skills to at least do that job capably. I hope so, because I haven't seen anything in Aaron Rouse.

I watched the NFL replay of the Tennessee game and Bigby stunk. I think he might be a one & done guy this year & not make the roster or find himself buried on the chart.

Bill: Could be, but he had ankle problems off and on all year. Maybe that was part of it. But you're right that he could have just caught lightening in a bottle down the stretch in 2007.

What player on the team do you see struggling in the new scheme?

Bill: Al Harris has struggled when asked to play zone in the past. So, just based on what I've seen, I'd say him, but he's a very proud guy. Give him an offseason and he might figure it out just fine.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at and Facebook.

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