Last year, Aaron Rodgers was looking forward to the Family Night Scrimmage as his public debut as the Packers' starting quarterback.
Then, the Brett Favre saga went into overdrive, with Favre in attendance for the annual event and the fans' alliegiances split.
"It was definitely an interesting night with Brett showing up in Green Bay," Rodgers said on Friday, the day before tonight's scrimmage. "The Family Night Scrimmage is always an amazing time. To see how many fans come out to watch a scrimmage — 70,000 and the kind of energy they have. It's really geared toward getting the young guys some live game action just to see how fast it is. It's fast in practice, but when guys can cut (block) and you're taking guys to the ground, the game speed picks up even more. Hopefully, we'll be able to make some plays on offense and put some points on the board for the fans."
Here are some of the highlights from Rodgers' conversation with reporters.
On the team after one week of camp ...
I like where we're at as a team. I like the energy and the enthusiasm and the fights. But at the same time, I think we're coming together as a group.
On facing the blitz-heavy new defense ...
It's tougher. It really is tougher, because going against the old scheme, it was a lot of man coverage. With this team, like you saw today in practice in the red-zone drill, they were bringing guys off the edges, corner blitz, safety blitz. They play Cover-2, Cover-3, man. They're mixing up the coverages and the blitzes so often, a lot of times they're shutting down one side, blocking up one side, and if a guy comes free on the other side, I've got to get it out of my hands. It makes it a lot more difficult to try to get a read on it. With this athletic defense, when they go with two down linemen and put four linebackers out there and five DBs, you've got nine super-athletes out there. It's tough to find windows.
On the offense in general ...
The dynamic of the offensive meeting room has changed, where the offensive line's really taken over a role of leadership on the team, which I think you need in order to have a successful team. As was seen the other time in the practice where we had the big fight, there's a big-brother protection system in place where the offensive role realizes their role in needing to police matters like that. I think you need that. You need the guys up front to be a little nasty, and I think they're playing well as unit. That along with the urgency that we have as a team and my opportunity to lead, I think that all combined has given us more of a humble swagger on offense. It's just a different feel in the locker room.
On tight end Jermichael Finley's dominating camp ...
He's gotten a lot better, obviously, since we last saw him in Detroit (in the season finale), but there was a noticeable improvement throughout the season. Once he started realizing what his role was going to be, to really work those guys over on the scout team, he was really unguardable by the end of the season. With his athletic ability, we had to find packages to get him on the field so he could help our offense. This offseason, he came in in very good shape and if not 100, very close to 100 percent attendance. Just having him there the entire time and getting on the same page with him has really meant a lot. I keep saying this: His improvement has not only added another weapon to our arsenal, but it's pushed Donald Lee. I think Donald has had his best offseason and he's had a great training camp. Him pushing Donald and him just being an incredible athlete has really helped us out.
Expect more passes to the tight ends ...
You hope so. That kind of depends. I like to throw to the open guy. The improvement that they've shown should allow them to get open more. If they're open, I'm going to give it to him.
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