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Green Bay Packers' draft shows the champs aren't letting up

Apr. 30, 2011
 

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It’s become very apparent that the Green Bay Packers have no intention of resting on their Super Bowl championship laurels.

You can see it in the way they conducted their draft over the last three days, and you can hear it in coach Mike McCarthy’s voice when he discussed the upcoming season on Saturday.

“I’m pretty confident we’re going to be a hungry football team this year,” said McCarthy, who seemed offended when it was suggested that motivation might be an issue for a reigning Super Bowl title team. “We have a new opportunity. It’s a new challenge, a new mountain to climb.”

And for the Packers it starts on offense, where they loaded up in the draft with a receiver, running back, two tight ends and two linemen.

That’s a boatload of talent to throw at a unit that has finished in the top-10 among NFL offenses over the past five seasons. But McCarthy, who calls the plays and oversees the offense, isn’t satisfied and will demand improvement.

An outside observer might conclude the Packers have an embarrassment of riches on offense, but McCarthy doesn’t see it that way.

“Any time you fall into the mindset of feeling you’re a little better than you think you are, that’s a mistake,” he said.

Never mind that the Packers won a championship on the strength of an explosive passing attack.

As far as McCarthy is concerned, that’s not good enough, and not even Super Bowl success will go to his head.

“We weren’t the best offense in the league,” he said. Beyond winning another title, that’s the Packers’ goal.

“We feel that we have more to offer offensively,” McCarthy added. “We have more offense that we really never got to last year and we feel like we can do a better job looking forward.”

So McCarthy wasn’t complaining when General Manager Ted Thompson used five of his first six picks to draft offensive players.

“I think we got to the point where we felt like we needed to pick a defensive player because we were feeling a little guilty,” he joked.

McCarthy then turned serious when he said he has no problem stoking his team’s competitive fires by drafting promising prospects at receiver, tight end, running back, tackle and guard.

“I think it’s common practice any time the NFL draft goes on, (veteran) players do sit at home, they’re fully aware of who’s been drafted and what round and what position,” McCarthy said. “There’s nothing like competition, and we feel like we’ve added some competition on our football team today.”

The defense, which ranked No. 2 in the NFL last season in points allowed, wasn’t neglected by Thompson, although it took him a while to get around to addressing that side of the ball. The Packers added a cornerback (Davon House) in the fourth round, a pair of linebackers (D.J. Smith and Ricky Elmore) in the sixth round and a defensive lineman (Lawrence Guy) in the seventh who was projected to go much higher and might be a hidden gem.

Beyond the draft, defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Saturday he is hoping for significant improvement from veteran linebackers Frank Zombo and Erik Walden, and defensive ends Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson.

This team was solid and deep before the draft and only got better over the past three days. Only the current NFL lockout is preventing the Packers from moving forward.

“I think everybody’s ready to get back to work, so hopefully we can get this (labor issue) resolved,” said McCarthy.

The Packers have a roster brimming with talent, and it’s hard to blame McCarthy for wanting to begin the quest for another title.

Mike Vandermause is sports editor of the Press-Gazette.

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