The Packers are in the midst of 12 practice days in four weeks of organized team activities, which end June 18.
By the time players reconvene for the mandatory minicamp June 22-24, the groundwork of the new 3-4 scheme for the defense will have been laid and rehearsed. The first two practices during each week of OTAs are being used to install various aspects of the defense, with the third day as a review. The minicamp also will be used as a review period.
"I really like the way our players have picked up the system defensively," coach Mike McCarthy said.
McCarthy overhauled not only the defense but most of his defensive staff, bringing aboard 3-4 guru and former NFL head coach Dom Capers as coordinator.
"I like the coaching that is going on," McCarthy said. "The offseason program and OTAs is as much about scheme development, but it's also about making sure your practice environment is in tune. I think the defense is off to a very good start."
The Packers bolstered the defense, which was anemic against the run and struggled to rush the passer last season, by taking highly regarded Boston College nose tackle B.J. Raji with the No. 9 pick in the first round of the April draft and trading up to take Clay Matthews III late in the first round.
Raji is starting out as the understudy to veteran Ryan Pickett as the anchor of the line but is versatile and athletic enough to be the likely starter at left defensive end.
While Raji has been happy to do his part in moving around on the line, there appears to be some dissension in the ranks with a couple key players on defense.
Safety Nick Collins, a year removed from a breakout season that landed him a spot in the Pro Bowl for the first time, has been absent for the majority of the offseason program. He has a year left on his rookie contract and would like a lucrative extension, which the Packers have yet to broach with him.
With Collins away, a lot of on-field attention has been heaped on Aaron Kampman. The Pro Bowl defensive end has been moved to outside linebacker, and the transition has been perceived from the outside to be an unsettling one because the normally outgoing Kampman has had little to say about the matter.
"I'm learning it," Kampman said. "I'm not saying I don't like it. I'm just saying I'm learning it."
Kampman, an eighth-year veteran in a contract year, is being groomed for the multifaceted role by former All-Pro linebacker Kevin Greene, who flourished in the 3-4 scheme and is in his first year as an NFL assistant coach.
As much as Kampman doesn't seem to be too thrilled by the change in position, the coaches have rallied around him and say he is a good fit for linebacker.
"I think he attacked the new defense just like you think Aaron would," McCarthy said. "He spent a lot of individual time with Kevin Greene over the last three months. You could see he has a complete understanding so far of the installs that we have put in there, and I think when you do reach that point as a player, regardless of what position, it gives you the ability to play faster.
"I think he has done a very nice job. It's always nice to see someone add a little more variety to their game. He has always been an excellent pass rusher, an excellent player against the run and has done a good job in the coverage. I think he'll only improve."
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