While the primary purpose of the annual NFL owners meeting is to vote on new rules and count everyone's bounty, coaches and team personnel also talk with the media. It provides a little insight into a given team's planning in the lead up to the draft and after free agency has reshaped their roster.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy didn't reveal much about the team's plans for the center position, but he went on record regarding just about every other major offseason question.
Perhaps the biggest question now that the offensive tackle situation has been sorted out concerns the role free agent signee Julius Peppers will undertake in the Packers' defense. McCarthy revealed that Peppers will practice with the linebackers and position coach Winston Moss. Don't take that to mean that the team expects him to play at outside linebacker, however. As discussed in yesterday's Curds, the Packers are likely to utilize Peppers and other defenders as elephant ends in a 4-3 under alignment. Peppers may indeed play some linebacker, but he's probably going to be at the line of scrimmage most of the time. McCarthy also noted that the team plans to restrict his playing time to fewer than 800 snaps. Such confirms the widely held suspicion that Peppers will be more of a situational pass rusher than every-down defender.
Sticking with the defensive line, McCarthy confirmed that B.J. Raji will play at nose tackle in the upcoming season.
Near the start of free agency, Green Bay's one-year, $4 million offer to B.J. Raji was reportedly contingent upon a return to the nose tackle position. McCarthy confirmed as much, remarking that the Packers will "cut him loose" and "need to get him over the center" again. Based on those comments, the team obviously believes that Raji can be a field tilter again if used in this role.
McCarthy reiterated his comments from last month that Micah Hyde will see his role increase in 2014. "[Hyde] deserves the opportunity to be an every-down player. He was standing on the sideline too much (in 2013)." Hyde is expected to play both safety and slot corner this upcoming season with some speculating he could compete for the full-time safety job vacated by M.D. Jennings. However, McCarthy isn't worried about the position, stating, "We've got a lot of time."
Another popular topic has become the Packers' thinking at backup quarterback. McCarthy confirmed that Matt Flynn remains in the team's plans and may still re-sign. As we speculated earlier this week, the team wants to retain three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2014.
McCarthy also discussed some of his injured players. When asked about the severity of the ankle sprain defensive end Datone Jones suffered last year, McCarthy acknowledged that it was "worse than we probably thought." That at least partially explains why Jones' playing time was heavily curbed near the end of the season. As for running back Johnathan Franklin, McCarthy revealed that he did not have neck surgery as previously speculated. That's a good break for Franklin, who demonstrated fantastic running ability during his lone extended opportunity in week 3.
That's all from McCarthy. Keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company for the latest Packers news and developments.