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Rookies, returnees alike enjoying offseason minus lockout

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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Green Bay Packers rookie safety Jerron McMillian was at a loss. To even consider an offseason without rookie orientations, offseason workouts and organized team activities seemed impossible. Flat-out crazy. “I couldn’t even imagine not having a rookie minicamp and throwing the whole book at you and tell you to learn it,” said McMillian, one of the Packers’ two fourth-round picks last month. “Just imagining to not have a rookie minicamp and them telling you to, ‘learn this, learn that.’ Your head is spinning, but if you’re a fast learner you pick it up.” However, that was a bitter reality for members of last year’s draft class during the summer of uncertainty in wake of the NFL lockout. The lockout wiped out most of the offseason for players and coaches before finally being lifted in time for training camp in July. Untimely circumstances forced the Packers’ 10-man draft class and undrafted free agents to forage their own path to the NFL without the quiet comforts of communication with their new team. Some succeeded, some faltered, but there was no denying it was a less than favorable way to start your professional football career. “It really wasn’t fair for us,” said cornerback Davon House, a fourth-round pick last season. “It’s amazing how players like Cam Newton, Randall (Cobb) and Von Miller picked up the defense and offense so quick. It’s amazing those people are that gifted to pick up a playbook and within three weeks know the playbook by heart, but this year’s rookies are lucky they didn’t have to go through what we had to go through last year.” While last offseason cannot be retrieved, many of the Packers’ second-year players are enjoying the opportunity to learn and develop at a more comfortable pace. It’s even proved beneficial for third-year safety Morgan Burnett, who started all 16 games last season but was still a rookie of sorts after a season-ending knee injury limited him to only four games in 2010. “It really helps out a lot because during the lockout you really didn’t get that one-on-one time, sitting down with coaches and breaking plays down in detail,” Burnett said. “With the (individual player workouts), it allows you to do that and helps out with the learning curve a lot.” — Weston Hodkiewicz, whodkiew@greenbaypressgazette.com

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Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.

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