GREEN BAY – 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. It was just different coaches and different people, how they handle things.”
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 to end practice.
“Just not wasting the day,” Williams said. “We didn’t have the energy that we normally have. We’ve done well pretty much every day. It was just something about this day, the energy wasn’t there. Coach Pettine let us know.”
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. He’s going to let you know, but he’s been highly successful in this league with every team he’s been on. He has the resume to back it up, and you can see it in his attitude also.
“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 contract-extension 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 offseason or something happens on the Fourth of July. That’s usually stories you get from now until training camp. I don’t have anything to report at this point but I’m sure there will be some unnamed sources close to me that have some sort of scoop along the way."
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. I expect to play at an MVP-caliber level this year, like I do every year. I’m not worried about it."
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' voluntary workouts. It’s unclear whether the four-year veteran will attend next week’s mandatory minicamp. Coach Mike McCarthy said Monday he’s considering excusing veterans from minicamp — as he has done in the past — so perhaps Clinton-Dix won’t be required to attend, although he's a year shy of the usual five-year standard for being excused.
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 offseason. Ha Ha, just like a number of veterans, when we start the offseason 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.”