Gray on James Jones: A 'physical presence'
Packers Hall of Famer Johnnie Gray was Monday's guest on Clubhouse Live, Gannett Wisconsin Media's live weekly football show.
Among the topics he touched on were the training camp schedule, the return of James Jones and the Packers' rookie corners. The show can be seen live at The Clubhouse Sports Pub & Grill in downtown Appleton or on clubhouselive.com.
Here are select and edited answers from the interview:
Q: There was a time during your playing days when the NFL preseason consisted of six games and the grueling two-a-days training camp practices. How did you get through it?
Gray: I enjoyed training camp. (Former Packers center) Larry McCarren would say, "Johnnie, you're just a sicko." ... I came in at my first minicamp at like 180 pounds, and (the Packers) said, "Johnnie, we need to get you buffed up to about 185." And so I went back to my college, and I'm drinking milkshakes and eating peanut butter sandwiches so I can come to training camp at 185. Well, needless to say, that weight didn't stay with me even though I led the team in tackles. I went home that year at a lean 171 or 173. My ribs were showing. And so I got into the weight room, and each year I got stronger and a little bit faster. ... So I enjoyed training camp because that gave me an opportunity to show the coaching staff and my co-workers that I got home in the offseason, and I worked in the weight room, and I worked on my skills, and I worked on my hand-eye coordination, and I studied film so I could go and play this game at the highest level it can be played.
Q: Does James Jones still have enough game to be a factor in the Packers' high-tempo offensive attack?
Gray: I sure hope so, because we have not had a chance to see James (this preseason). I know it didn't work out for him at the Raiders and then recently with the New York Giants. ... I've always liked James. He's a physical receiver off the line of scrimmage. ... James is more of a physical presence on the line of scrimmage. When they come up in press coverage, he'll be able to get off the line of scrimmage a lot more efficiently if he still has something left as opposed to what (receiver) Myles White had.
Q: The Packers look to be leaning heavily on a trio of rookie cornerbacks in top draft picks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins and undrafted free agent LaDarius Gunter. Any concerns about that position heading into the season?
Gray: I'm not (worried). If you had a chance to come out to practice, you would have fallen in love with these guys. ... Their corner skills are top-notch. They stay low in their backpedal. When their cushion is broken, they get out of their backpedal. They high-point the ball. They strip-search the receiver once the ball is caught. So their football corner skills are excellent. They're ball hawks. They like to play the ball when it's in the air. ... The majority of the time, they're going to get their head around, and they're going to go play the football. And that's what you want. I would rather have a guy who has good football skills, a man who's going to stay and compete every play.
Brett Christopherson: 920-993-1000, ext. 207, or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @PCBrettC