One of the themes of Mike McCarthy's offseason program has been improving the urgency and the pacing compared to the last two years. McCarthy, famously a creature of habit, hasn't cared for the new offseason rules that came with the most recent revision of the CBA. From the sound of things this year, McCarthy has found a schedule that works with the new practice restrictions.
(McCarthy On the off-season) "Has gone well. ...First time a team takes the field, the installs are pretty easy. Thought the offense was ahead of schedule. Minicamp work last week was good. Today was 7th install, very good for the defense. Three practices left, get to last install and then two days of review. Further along then we were last year. Having a good off-season program."
(In what ways better than last year) "Quality of work, No. 1. ...Scheme, coming off of last year, installed and understanding and the new players have integrated well. One of the better integrations for a young group. Have been saying this since April in the weight room. This team has a better edge to them. Higher sense of urgency. Maybe it's my higher sense of urgency. Leadership is very consistent as far as everyday work. No major swings, high and low. A lot of quality work in that we can apply to the future."
In the previous months, McCarthy has talked about the phases of his offseason program. Minicamp is part of the third phase, and the scheme and playbook installations are scheduled to be completed before the start of training camp. That's a change from previous years which called for some installs during training camp. McCarthy believes the change will have an impact on how the team plays to start the year. Perhaps this will prevent the sluggish start that the Packers offense endured to begin 2012.
McCarthy also took time to comment on several young players.
(On Sinkfield) "He's fast. Always nice to see fresh legs out there. He'll have an opportunity."
"Sinkfield" refers to Terrell Sinkfield, the former Northern Iowa wide receiver who was reportedly timed at 4.19 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. He was signed this week to account for injuries to the wide receiver corps. Despite Sinkfield's speed, he faces an upward climb to make the roster or practice squad. Not only will he have to overcome questions about his hands and route running, but he's also joining the team late. The injuries will give him a chance but little margin for error.
(On Shields) "Sam Shields not here for personal reasons. He's back home."
Shields' absence was initially alarming as the cornerback had missed considerable time while negotiating a contract extension and waiting to sign his RFA tender. As it turned out, Shields was excused to attend to a personal matter. Whether this keeps Shields away from minicamp beyond Tuesday's practice is unclear. Hopefully there's nothing serious going on and Shields can return in time for the team's next practice.
(On D.J. Williams) "Terrible timing for hamstring injury. Was a featured player in a number of different concepts. He had a big play today down the middle of the field. Has that ability. Has done a nice job on special teams, continues to get better. Can't have enough tight ends."
Williams has been an enigma through his first two seasons in the NFL. He possesses great hands and receiving skills and doesn't shy away from his blocking responsibilities. Williams impressed the coaches during the 2012 preseason to the point where some questioned Finley's grasp on the top tight end spot. The regular season was a different story, and by the time the Packers arrived in San Francisco to the play the 49ers in the divisional round, Williams was benched so that Donald Driver could walk the sidelines in uniform. With Andrew Quarless now healthy after missing last season with a torn ACL, Williams will have to do more to earn a spot on the Packers' 53. Missing time with hamstring problems isn't going to make it any easier.
(On B.J. Coleman) "Very talented. Really like the development in fundamentals he has made. Fun to watch. But just like anything, you can't practice two-minute drill enough. You can't get enough reps as a young quarterback."
Following a two-play two-minute drill that saw Aaron Rodgers toss a 52-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb, Coleman had a 50+ yard touchdown of his own. What makes this even more meaningful is that Coleman played with the second team ahead of Graham Harrell. While Coleman playing with the second group shouldn't be interpreted as the current status of the backup quarterback battle, it's a positive sign for his development. As we've discussed often this offseason, Coleman can position himself as Rodgers' top backup with a strong showing in camp and the preseason games.
(On run game expectations) "No number on it. ...We have to get in pads to see what's real and what's perception. We'll be better - I promise you that."
This is McCarthy's way of saying "nothing to see here." And really, there's no way to accurately judge the running backs until the players are in pads and facing live contact. There won't be meaningful news on this front until a few weeks into training camp.
(On Lombardi) "Amazing how many times his name comes up in every type of conversation, whether you're sitting at a table with a bunch of businessmen or out on a golf course."
The Lombardi comment is there for two reasons. Tuesday marks what would have been the Packers' legendary coach's 100th birthday. In addition, ESPN finished it's reveal of the 20 greatest coaches of all-time today by giving Lombardi the top nod. While it's hardly surprising that the current coach of the Packers has nice things to say about Lombardi, fans always love to hear it.
That's all for Tuesday's practice. Keep your internet machine locked on APC for more developments and breaking news.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn