GREEN BAY – OTAs, organized team activities, or phase II of the off-season program in the parlance of Mike McCarthy goes by many names but what exactly is the goal?
Entering his fourth NFL season wide receiver Randall Cobb knows. “This is the time of year where you test new things out and test what works for you and what won’t,” Cobb said.
It’s also the first time the rookies get to go full speed with their veteran teammates. “You always have growing pains you have new members into your program,” Mike McCarthy said. “You look at the rookies and they’re trying to keep up with the tempo that they haven’t experienced before.”
Wautoma native Jared Abbrederis is one of those rookies. Abbrederis has had to adjust to extra attention from fans as a local boy made good while also learning to be a professional. “It’s kind of just getting in the rhythm and being a part of the team. You have to learn every position basically so I think that helps me because that’s how I like to learn an offense anyway,” Abbrederis said.
Even when practice is open to the public that’s only a portion of what the Packers are doing during OTA’s it’s an especially important time for guys like JC Tretter and Micah Hyde who are trying to learn new spots on the field.
Tretter didn’t appear in any games last season after suffering an injury during rookie orientation camp. Coach McCarthy said Tretter was around the building almost every day this off-season and that work ethic has carried over into OTAs. “Early on this off-season is really about making the most of the opportunities and honing in on the fundamentals. This is a great time to grow and learn in a new position,” Tretter said.
Micah Hyde saw the field plenty during his rookie season, making 55 tackles, while recording a sack and a forced fumble. Hyde served as a cornerback last season but worked exclusively at safety during the portion of practice the media was allowed to watch. “I’m trying to learn what everybody is supposed to do in the secondary and I don’t know what the plan is for me but hopefully I get an opportunity to get on the field and that’s what I came here to do,” Hyde said.
Even the longest tenured Packers like AJ Hawk and Aaron Rodgers have goals to accomplish during OTAs. “I’m always trying to learn the scheme more and learn everybody’s position on the field and it’s a constant battle for all of us to get better, Hawk said. “Even if we’re not hitting you can still do a lot of things to help yourself out,” the nine year veteran said with a big smile, clearly enjoying being back to playing the game that he loves.
Rodgers goal during OTAs is a little simpler. “I try to not get hurt,” Rodgers said with a Cheshire grin and a long pause before continuing,” I’m okay right now.” And in the present day NFL even that is something.