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July

No Workouts? No Problem For The Packers

Brothers Aaron and Jordan Rodgers work out together at Whole Body Fitness in their hometown of Chico, CA.

It’s become the big topic of debate during the lockout and it unfortunately involves the entire Green Bay Packers squad.

No, they haven’t gone on a cruise “Love Boat” style like the Minnesota Vikings did a few years ago. Rather, it’s a question about the Packers ON the field.

Why haven’t the Packer players held an informal team workout yet?

It’s a fair inquiry to make.  Most NFL teams have held some kind of group workouts involving a good chunk of the squad.  Yet the world champions have yet to do so with training camp possibly about a month away (assuming the lockout ends relatively soon).   This has not set well with many members of the media, including several former NFL players—namely former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

To them I say, relax. The Packers will be fine.  Just because a majority of league has had team workouts does not put Green Bay at a significant competitive disadvantage.

Where is the proof of this? First, one has to look no further than the Packers squad that won Super Bowl XLV.  The team enjoyed outstanding chemistry in the locker room which is remarkable given all the injuries the team suffered and having to bring in some players basically off the street.

These new players were welcomed into the fold by the veterans.  Erik Walden comes to mind in this situation.  Here is a guy that comes in literally off the street and in a matter of weeks has a monster game which helped propel the Packers into the postseason.   On some other teams, Walden would have been forced to pay his dues and let the established stars make all the plays.

Not in Green Bay, where players take joy and pleasure in each other’s accomplishments.  This Packers squad was a team in the truest sense of the word and with a vast majority of players coming back for 2011, there is no reason to believe that strong chemistry will not continue.  Mike McCarthy and his staff will see to that.

Speaking of McCarthy, he’s another reason why the Packers don’t necessarily need to hold informal team workouts.   When asked about workouts during the lockout, McCarthy continued to emphasize that he trusts his players and expects them to report to camp in shape whenever it begins.

Whereas some coaches may be jittery, McCarthy seems completely at ease.  His trust in his players (which showed during the playoff run when he let guys lead the team prayer and give the pregame and postgame speeches) is so strong that it can’t help but rub off on the players.  If a player knows his coach has his back and trusts him, he is much more likely to come back and work his butt off for that coach.

The final reason why the Packers may be fine without team workouts is their quarterback.  When Bruschi made his statement about the Packers’ lack of group workouts, he mentioned that Rodgers should be calling the guys together and that it is his responsibility as a leader to be doing so.  In essence, Bruschi was calling out Rodgers’ leadership ability.

Perhaps Tedy was drinking too many brewskis, but anyone remember what happened the last time some people called out Rodgers for not being good enough at this or that?

Yep, he stormed through the playoffs and led the Packers to a Super Bowl.

Some may have short term memory, but Rodgers is not one of them.   He remembers every little dig people take at him and stores it away in his memory bank as extra motivation.  It’s become clear he thrives on adversity and as a perfectionist is never satisfied with his game.

NFL defenses, take note.  If you find yourself on the receiving end of an Aaron Rodgers beatdown, call Tedy Bruschi and thank him.

This is not to say the Packers aren’t rolling the dice a bit with the lack of workouts, however.  There’s the matter of their rookies learning the playbook.  With Derek Sherrod and Randall Cobb expected to contribute right away, the Packers will be behind the 8 ball so to speak.  That said, none of the other rookies in the league have gotten their formal playbooks either but some are at least working out with their new teammates.

With the lockout possibly nearing an end, all the predictions and preseason hype can begin in earnest.  It was definitely a different offseason, but after all the Packers went through on their way to Super Bowl XLV adversity and unusual circumstances should be nothing new to this bunch.

So the Packers may have to prove the prognosticators wrong on their way to another Super Bowl title.  “Second verse, same as the first,” I say.

The NFL learned the hard way last year when they counted the Packers out.  Now they doubt them again and the Packers are licking their chops.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

If this saying holds true, Packer fans are in for yet another special season in 2011.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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3 Responses to “No Workouts? No Problem For The Packers”

  1. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor 12 says:

    It’s a known fact that players and coaches CANNOT talk and yet few in the media and fandom have realized that the Packers players and coaches have indeed talked without talking.MM said during his interviews he is AGAINST these type of workouts and guess who listened,his players and that is what makes team chemistry,IMO.

    Secondly,why are some thinking Sherrod and Cobb must contribute day one?Cobb will get some play before Sherrod because of his (hopeful) multi-talents whereas Sherrod will be a starter at some point, but isn’t bumping anyone from that OL unless an injury and even then,Newhouse,Lang,Spitz,McDonald depending on the projected time loss of the injured player will dictate the shuffling of the OL deck.

    As to the rookies of some teams being taught the playbook by players,who themselves will no doubt need to be re-taught the up dated one by the coaches,may only be doing harm.

    The Packers have the needed chemistry and more than that,a true”All for One” as stated and proven by the willingness and acceptance of each player as a “team player”.

    The Packers may hit a bump or two in camp and perhaps even early season game or two but,a bump is better than a pothole(s) from injuries which can/may result in extensive loss of games to even one key player.

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  2. Curley2808 says:

    It’s been a dull offseason and journalists need “conflict” to grab attention. The Packers not getting together for workouts, as everyone else seems to be doing, is all the conflict they’re going to get. Seems like mighty thin soup they’re feeding to the masses just as it’s silly to think the drama will add any extra motivation to AR and the rest of the GBP’s to win another SB. Once the season gets started this won’t even deserve mention. Do you see anyone trotting it out in October if the Pack lose a game? “…Well, I think the lack of team workouts last May are the reason they played poorly tonight…” or, while AR is hoisting the Lombardi next Feb, “I knew we didn’t need those extra workouts…” Not likely.

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  3. iccyfan says:

    I feel it’s a story with some merit. I guess when I look at the “competition” in the NFC, the team that jumps out at me as the most significant threat is the Saints. I read somewhere the Saints completed weeks of “team practices” until the watchful eye of Drew Brees, including classroom instruction for the youngsters.

    It’s a pretty fine line that separates conference champion from non-playoff qualifier. Necessary or not, the Saints (via Brees) appear to be going the extra distance to give themselves an edge.

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