TELLING IT LIKE IT IS

Pet­tine not afraid to be crit­i­cal of de­fense

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As Green Bay Pack­ers play­ers saw Mon­day, more than scheme sep­a­rates de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Pet­tine from pre­de­ces­sor Dom Ca­pers.

Ca­pers, a quiet, an­a­lyt­i­cal mind, was al­ways calm through nine sea­sons or­ches­trat­ing the Pack­ers’ de­fense. If some­thing was amiss, de­fen­sive tackle

Kenny Clark said, Ca­pers of­ten re­lied on his vet­eran lead­er­ship to ad­dress team­mates.

Pet­tine, with his bald head, dark shades and “Blunt Force Trauma” nick­name, has an in­ten­sity that matches his de­meanor. He also has a rep­u­ta­tion for not shying from con­fronta­tion when war­ranted. So it was Mon­day. Al­most a third of the way through a 30-minute walk­through to close the fi­nal open or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties ses­sion, Pet­tine, un­happy with his play­ers’ at­ten­tion to de­tail, stopped the drill. He called them into a hud­dle on the field, re­set­ting their fo­cus for the fi­nal 20 min­utes.

“Two dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties,” vet­eran cor­ner­back Tra­mon Wil­liams said, laugh­ing.

Clark, the third-year de­fen­sive tackle who is gain­ing fa­mil­iar­ity with Pet­tine’s coach­ing style, also laughed when asked if he could imag­ine Ca­pers stop­ping a drill to de­liver a fiery mes­sage.

“No,” he said fi­nally. “Dom was more quiet. We had a lot of older guys. I would say our de­fense is more younger. So Julius ( Pep­pers) and Mike ( Daniels) and Clay ( Matthews) and all those guys, if we did get one of those sit­u­a­tions, I think Dom would let the lead­ers do that.”

Rookie line­backer Oren Burks said Pet­tine ad­dressed “sloppy mis­takes” he was notic­ing dur­ing the walk­through, par­tic­u­larly with on-field com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Clark and Wil­liams said Pet­tine de­manded more fo­cus.

“Just not wast­ing the day,” Wil­liams said. “We didn’t have the en­ergy that we nor­mally have.”

Clark said it was the first time Pet­tine

has paused prac­tice for ad­mon­ish­ment. It may not be the last.

Wil­liams played un­der Pet­tine for one sea­son with the Cleve­land Browns. He said Pet­tine car­ries his in­ten­sity onto the prac­tice field.

“From Dom to coach Pet­tine is to­tally dif­fer­ent,” Wil­liams said. “Two dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties. Dom was just a laid-back guy. He com­manded it with his ex­pe­ri­ence and pres­ence, but coach Pet­tine, he’s go­ing to let you know.

“Coach Pet­tine believes in foot­ball stuff, not schemat­ics stuff. As a player, that’s what you love in a coach. If he tells you to go out there and do what you do, that’s what you love to hear from a coach. That’s what coach Pet­tine is re­ally about.” Rodgers on ‘con­jec­ture’: Aaron

Rodgers ad­dressed an NFL Net­work re­port from over the week­end that he was seek­ing opt-out op­tions in his con­tractex­ten­sion talks.

“I don’t talk about it to the me­dia and I don’t think my agent ( David Dunn) is, ei­ther,” Rodgers said his con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions. “A lot of it is just con­jec­ture and sto­ries that aren’t re­ally based in fac­tual in­ter­ac­tions or mis­rep­re­sented ac­tions. I think that’s just part of it.

“It’s kind of a slow pe­riod for foot­ball right now and we’re head­ing into the sum­mer, when there’s not much to talk about un­less some­body gets ar­rested or in­jured in the off-sea­son or some­thing hap­pens on the Fourth of July. That’s usu­ally sto­ries you get from now un­til train­ing camp.”

Asked whether he had a dead­line in mind for get­ting the deal done, Rodgers said, “No. That’s why I’ve got my agent. He’s han­dling the con­ver­sa­tions. I’ve got two years left on my deal so I don’t have a drop-dead date.”

Mike Garafolo of NFL Net­work had re­ported that Rodgers would like some sort of out clause in an ex­ten­sion that would al­low him to rene­go­ti­ate a new deal should he again be sur­passed as the NFL’s high­est-paid quar­ter­back.

Ian Rapoport, Garafolo’s col­league at NFL Net­work, stoked the fires of the re­port Sat­ur­day, tweet­ing “Yup. A pro-

posed con­tract would in­clude a se­ries of player op­tions. Should be fas­ci­nat­ing.”

How­ever, as Charles Robin­son of Ya­hoo! Sports pointed out, the Pack­ers have lit­tle in­cen­tive to agree to such terms, given that he’s un­der con­tract for two more sea­sons and sub­ject to the fran­chise tag for two sea­sons af­ter that.

Mike Flo­rio of Pro Foot­ball Talk chimed in, not­ing that what­ever Rodgers gets in his new deal is cer­tain to be leap-frogged by another quar­ter­back even­tu­ally. Matt Ryan be­came the NFL’s first $30 mil­lion a year player when the Atlanta Fal­cons ex­tended his con­tract in early May. Fol­low­ing on the heels of the Min­nesota Vik­ings giv­ing Kirk Cousins a fully guar­an­teed three-year, $84 mil­lion con­tract in March, it cleared the decks for Rodgers to as­sume his place at the top of the QB salary list. Sign­ing Bryant un­likely?: Rodgers believes free-agent re­ceiver Dez Bryant has plenty to of­fer an of­fense but doesn’t ex­pect the Pack­ers to sign him.

Af­ter re­leas­ing Jordy Nel­son at the start of spring, the Pack­ers could use more re­ceiver depth. Rodgers, care­ful to say it wasn’t his de­ci­sion, sug­gested his­tory would in­di­cate the Pack­ers prob­a­bly will go with what they have.

“We like young re­ceivers,” Rodgers said re­cently. “So I’m as­sum­ing that’s the way they’re go­ing to keep go­ing.”

Bryant, a first-round pick of the Dal­las Cow­boys in 2010, was re­leased ear­lier this spring af­ter eight sea­sons with his orig­i­nal team. He was se­lected to three Pro Bowls with the Cow­boys, his last com­ing in 2016.

Rodgers said he wouldn’t op­pose the Pack­ers sign­ing Bryant, but he believes it’s un­likely.

“I don’t know why you’d cut Jordy and bring in Dez,” Rodgers said, “but he’s a tal­ented player. He’s go­ing to end up some­where. If he ends up here, we’d ob­vi­ously wel­come him with open arms and get him up to speed as quick as pos­si­ble.”

When it comes to young re­ceivers, the Pack­ers have no short­age of op­tions. They drafted three this spring: J’Mon Moore in the fourth round, Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the fifth and Equa

nimeous St. Brown in the sixth. Oth­ers, such as 2017 fifth-round pick DeAn­gelo Yancey and 2017 un­drafted rookie Mi

chael Clark, could fac­tor in the mix.

Per­haps the most likely can­di­date to re­place Nel­son isn’t Bryant or the crop of rook­ies, but third-year re­ceiver Geroni

mo Al­li­son. In two sea­sons, the un­drafted re­ceiver out of Illi­nois has 35 catches and 455 yards. He caught two touch­down passes from Rodgers as a rookie in 2016, then fol­lowed early last sea­son with a game-win­ning catch in over­time against the Cincin­nati Ben­gals.

Hon­orary de­gree: Rodgers was hon­ored last week Thurs­day for his com­mit­ment to end child­hood can­cer and blood dis­or­ders.

The Med­i­cal Col­lege of Wis­con­sin be­stowed an hon­orary doc­tor­ate of hu­man­i­ties de­gree to Rodgers, who works with the school’s fac­ulty and is in­volved in the MACC (Mid­west Ath­letes Against Child­hood Can­cer) Fund.

“It is with great pride that we wel­come Aaron to the MCW com­mu­nity. Hon­orary de­gree re­cip­i­ents ex­em­plify the MCW com­mit­ment to the high­est

stan­dards of ed­u­ca­tion, schol­ar­ship, in­no­va­tion or com­mu­nity en­gage­ment,” said John R. Ray­mond Sr., pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of MCW, in a news re­lease.

No long-term im­pact: Main­tain­ing his sup­port for the Pack­ers char­ity soft­ball game that’s been held for 25 years, coach Mike McCarthy said he won’t over­re­act to Matthews’ bro­ken nose.

Matthews suf­fered the in­jury Sat­ur­day when of­fen­sive line­man Lu­cas Pat

rick smacked a liner up the mid­dle, hit­ting his team­mate in the face. McCarthy said the plan is for Matthews to have surgery by the mid­dle of this week. It isn’t ex­pected to af­fect Matthews’ long term.

What could have been a se­ri­ous in­jury de­vel­oped into a more light­hearted sit­u­a­tion 48 hours later.

“I think he needs to work on his off­hand, mitt side, on the re­lease of the ball,” McCarthy quipped Mon­day. “That’s what the tape showed me.”

Af­ter be­ing knocked to the ground, Matthews cov­ered his face with his glove and im­me­di­ately walked off the field at Fox Cities Sta­dium in Grand Chute. He was later taken to a lo­cal hospi­tal. Re­ceiver Da­vante Adams, Matthews’ co-cap­tain, be­gan pitch­ing from be­hind a bat­ting prac­tice screen af­ter the un­for­tu­nate play.

McCarthy said he won’t pull out of the game be­cause of the fluke ac­ci­dent.

“I think it’s great on a num­ber of fronts,” McCarthy said. “Any­time your play­ers give back (to) char­ity, in­volved in the com­mu­nity, it’s a great day for the fans. I mean, they sell out every year. It’s on its fourth player iden­tity with the soft­ball game. So, yeah, I’m not go­ing to over­re­act to this.”

McCarthy added: “It’s un­for­tu­nate but it’s for a great cause. I’m just glad he’s OK.”

Pa­trick said he has talked fre­quently with Matthews since the in­ci­dent, in­clud­ing Mon­day. The backup guard was clearly shaken by the un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent, say­ing he felt ter­ri­ble. He wishes the bat­ting prac­tice net had been in­serted sooner.

“It’s one of those fluke things,” Pa­trick said. “Look­ing back, af­ter they put the net out, it just took one guy like me to hit the face of the fran­chise to re­al­ize we need a net.”

There was no ill will be­tween Matthews and Pa­trick af­ter the in­ci­dent, Pa­trick said. In­stead, he cred­ited Matthews for help­ing him feel bet­ter.

“I went up, and he was as calm and cool as could be,” Pa­trick said. “He’s a tough guy to hop up like he did. He helped set­tle my nerves. Staying away: Ran­dall Cobb and Ma­son Crosby prac­ticed Mon­day af­ter miss­ing last week’s vol­un­tary open OTA ses­sion, but one un­in­jured player re­mained ab­sent.

Safety Ha Ha Clin­ton-Dix con­tin­ued to stay away from the Pack­ers’ from the Pack­ers’ vol­un­tary work­outs. It’s un­clear whether the fifth-year safety will at­tend next week’s manda­tory mini­camp. McCarthy said he’s con­sid­er­ing ex­cus­ing vet­er­ans from mini­camp – as he has done in the past – so per­haps Clin­ton-Dix won’t be re­quired to at­tend.

Re­gard­less, Clin­ton-Dix isn’t re­quired to at­tend OTAs, even though most Pack­ers play­ers usu­ally par­tic­i­pate. McCarthy said he isn’t wor­ried

about Clin­ton-Dix’s on­go­ing ab­sence.

“There’s re­ally no need to get into at­ten­dance,” McCarthy said. “We’re hav­ing a re­ally good off-sea­son. Ha Ha, just like a num­ber of vet­er­ans, when we start the off-sea­son pro­gram, we go through every­body’s in­di­vid­ual sched­ule. Things do come up. So he’s had a per­sonal sit­u­a­tion that he’s at­tended to, so I have no con­cerns.” On course for camp: If all goes well, sec­ond-year cor­ner­back Kevin King should be com­pletely ready for the start of Pack­ers train­ing camp.

Joe Whitt, the Pack­ers’ de­fen­sive pass-game coach, said he hopes King will be “full go” in camp. King has been present at or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties and par­tic­i­pated in in­di­vid­ual drills, but re­mains out of team drills as he re­cov­ers from shoul­der surgery.

“He’s been re­ally at­ten­tive,” Whitt said. “He’s worked his butt off in the work room. The guys in the work room are just rav­ing about the way his work ethic hasn’t nec­es­sar­ily changed, but from Year 1 to 2 you grow up, and he’s ma­tured that way.”

Tricks of the trade: When the Pack­ers hit the prac­tice field in May for the start of OTAs, a chis­eled fig­ure jogged with the lineback­ers from drill to drill. It ap­peared as if Nick Bar­nett, a for­mer Pack­ers line­backer now work­ing with the team as a coach­ing in­tern, could still play.

“You al­most want to throw them in the drill,” McCarthy said. “I know Nick wants to jump in there some­times. You’ve got to hold him back. It’s re­ally neat to see where they are in their lives and the in­ter­ests that they have and hey, if we can help them in any way pos­si­ble, it’s fun to be part of it.”

Bar­nett is one of three for­mer play­ers work­ing with the Pack­ers as coach­ing in­terns dur­ing OTAs and mini­camp. Join­ing Bar­nett are for­mer safety Jar­rett Bush and run­ning back Bran­don Jack­son, who was with the staff last spring as well. All three are part of the Bill Walsh Diver­sity Coach­ing Fel­low­ship pro­gram, the team said.

“It’s an in­ter­est­ing process, and it’s re­ally where they are in their lives,” McCarthy said. “You would think that more play­ers would take ad­van­tage of that op­por­tu­nity, but some play­ers are just not (in­ter­ested in coach­ing). They’re smart enough not to think of get­ting into coach­ing. Not to say that these three aren’t, but you al­ways want to have your own back. I don’t think I’ve ever said no to one of our for­mer play­ers. I think it’s im­por­tant. It’s great to have those guys back in­volved. … All three look like they could still play.” Good deed doesn’t go un­no­ticed: Pack­ers run­ning back Aaron Jones seemed a bit taken aback last week Thurs­day by all the at­ten­tion he’s get­ting that has noth­ing to do with his per­for­mance on the foot­ball field.

“I was just do­ing what any­body else would do,” said Jones, a fifth-round draft pick from UTEP in 2017.

Jones was re­fer­ring to the Twit­ter photo posted of him help­ing a woman in a wheel­chair at Ap­ple­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port. Jones, who did not know the woman, saw there was no one avail­able to push her wheel­chair af­ter they get off their flight from Chicago and helped de­liver her to fam­ily mem­bers wait­ing be­yond the gate.

The Twit­ter photo was taken by user @Mon­i­caAllen11, who wrote, “Just watched Pack­ers Aaron Jones push a ran­dom lady through the Ap­ple­ton air­port be­cause there was no [one] there to push her.”

Sur­rounded by me­dia mem­bers in the locker room af­ter the Pack­ers’ OTA ses­sion, Jones de­scribed the se­quence of events lead­ing up to the photo.

“A lady was sit­ting next to me, across the row when we were get­ting off the plane (and) I saw she needed help with her bags,” Jones said. “She had a cane, she was drag­ging her bags, and I was like, ‘Do you need help?’ And she said yes, so I started car­ry­ing her bags and when we were walk­ing off the plane, the flight at­ten­dant told her that there would be some­body there to push her with a wheel­chair. There were wheel­chairs when we walked, but nobody was there, and the wheel­chairs were folded up. So I asked if she wanted me to push her and she said yes. I pushed her down to where her daugh­ter was.”

Jones said the woman — whose name he didn’t get — at first didn’t re­al­ize he was a Pack­ers player but soon fig­ured it out.

“As we got half­way down there, I had a bag tag on and she asked ‘Are you a Pack­ers player?’ and I said ‘Yes ma’am, I am.’ And she was like, my hus­band would’ve loved this,” said Jones, who rushed for 448 yards and four touch­downs as a rookie. “You could tell she got ex­cited, and it made me happy. But I didn’t know any­body had taken a pic­ture un­til I got home and got on Twit­ter.”

The tweet quickly went vi­ral and praise for Jones poured in.

“Well, I’ll tell you, it brings a big smile to my face when it comes across my phone,” McCarthy said. “I’ll just say about Aaron Jones and our play­ers: I’m thank­ful that every­body else is get­ting to see what I get to see pretty much every day. I mean, this is a tremen­dous locker room. We’ve been very for­tu­nate and blessed with the cal­iber of char­ac­ter

that we have in our locker room.”

Corvette back to Green Bay?: Bart Starr’s car has a new owner, and he’d like to see the 1967 Corvette re­turned to Green Bay.

“I thought that car should be at the Pack­ers Hall of Fame or dis­played some­where in Lam­beau,” said

Steve Altieri, who bought the car Sun­day from long­time owner Michael An­der­son of Thun­der Val­ley Clas­sic Cars. “The de­cid­ing fac­tor why I de­cided to bid on it, I want it to be in Green Bay.”

The car, which was awarded to Starr as MVP of Su­per Bowl I, was in­cluded in an auc­tion on May 19 in In­di­anapo­lis, but the bid price was less than the es­tab­lished min­i­mum. How­ever, An­der­son and Altieri kept talk­ing and reached a deal the next day. The $150,000 sale price was less than An­der­son wanted, but Altieri’s plans swayed him.

“When I found out he wanted to get it back to Green Bay ... it felt like the right thing to do. Ev­ery­thing just turned out right,” An­der­son said.

The Pack­ers and Pack­ers Hall of Fame Inc. didn’t com­mit to any­thing, but ap­pre­ci­ated Altieri’s idea.

“We’ll take a look at it. It was nice to get the call,” said Aaron Pop­key, Pack­ers di­rec­tor of pub­lic af­fairs. “We’re not sure how or if it could fit into things.”

The lo­gis­tics of dis­play­ing it — se­cu­rity, space, etc. — could be a chal­lenge, but the car does have his­toric value, said Tom Konop, pres­i­dent of Pack­ers Hall of Fame Inc.

“Any­thing that’s re­lated to Bart Starr has value, as far as the his­tory of the Green Bay Pack­ers,” he said.

Aside from his fam­ily, Altieri said his pas­sions are the Pack­ers and Corvettes. He ini­tially thought the car would look great in his Pack­ers-themed garage, but the more he thought about it, the more it seemed right that it should be at Lam­beau Field or back in the hands of the Starr fam­ily.

“To me, it is such an im­por­tant part of his­tory, and Bart Starr be­ing the kind of per­son he is,” Altieri said.

Deschaine dies: Dick Deschaine, 87, a punter for the Pack­ers from 1955-’57, died May 20 in Green Bay.

Deschaine had a four-year NFL ca­reer, three with the Pack­ers and one with the Cleve­land Browns.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Green Bay Pack­ers de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Pet­tine watches rookie line­backer Oren Burks in OTA drills last month. Pet­tine of­ten lets his play­ers know how he feels about their per­for­mance.

RON PAGE / USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS­CON­SIN

David Bakhtiari watches line­backer Clay Matthews fall af­ter be­ing hit in the face by a bat­ted ball dur­ing the Green & Gold Char­ity Soft­ball Game at Fox Cities Sta­dium on Sat­ur­day.

JIM MATTHEWS / USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS .

Run­ning back Aaron Jones helped a woman in a wheel­chair at the Ap­ple­ton air­port.

RICHARD RY­MAN/USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS­CON­SIN

The 1967 Corvette awarded to Bart Starr as Su­per Bowl I MVP was on dis­play at Lam­beau Field on Aug. 31, 2017.

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