Former Packers tight end Tom Crabtree on Clubhouse Live: 'Look at little things' in preseason
Former Green Bay Packers tight end Tom Crabtree was Monday's guest on the season premiere of Clubhouse Live, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s live weekly football show.
Among the topics he touched on were the 2019 Packers, the lack of playing time in the preseason, the relationship between Aaron Rodgers and new Packers coach Matt LaFleur and the sudden retirement of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. The show can be seen live at The Clubhouse Sports Pub & Grill in downtown Appleton.
Here are select and edited answers from the interview:
Q: Preseason football can be tough to watch. Is there anything from those games that fans can use as a gauge to get a feel for how the 2019 Green Bay Packers will even look this season?
Crabtree: If I could look for one thing - especially with a new coach, a new staff - I'd look at little things like substitutions, players on and off the field, players hustling, lining up where they need to be the first time. The little things like that, I think, say a lot about the coach more than the score in the preseason, or how many yards of offense we've had, or the backup quarterback's passer rating. That stuff's cool, but look at the little things, and that tells you how they're responding to the coach, how his coaching is being taken by the players, how organized he is. Does he have his stuff together? If they haven't had a lot of mental errors, then I think that's a pretty good sign.
Q: It's likely Aaron Rodgers won't see any game action during the preseason. Can we expect him and the offense to be sharp when they take the field for that Week 1 matchup against the Chicago Bears?
Crabtree: I think a lot of times against your own defense, or preparing for the actual Week 1 game, you're getting better reps (in practice), you're looking at more complicated looks and you're getting a lot more reps than you would in a single preseason game. I'm kind of torn because preseason games meant a lot for me and my position as a player because I wasn't always a starter or guaranteed to make the roster. I had to go out there on special teams in preseason and make plays so I stood out in a good way. So I want (preseason game action) for those guys - those guys trying to make the roster. They want preseason. They want their chance to play. But at the same time, I think most of your roster is decided. You're probably looking at like maybe your last 10 guys in or whatever it is and try to decide (who makes the team). You're looking at a really small minority of your roster that even needs that (preseason) game.
Q: What's your take on this need to know how Rodgers and LeFleur are getting along? Don't you think it's a bit much at times?
Crabtree (smiling): Are people that bored? I think it's dumb. ... Aaron's a competitor. He's one of the best - if not the best - to ever do it at that position, and he just wants to win. So, I'm sure he has completely bought in to whatever LaFleur is coaching and telling the guys. He's going to ride it out and play his butt off. That's kind of how I feel about it. I think people are looking for a story and maybe kind of bored and - I don't want to say making stuff up - but trying to find something that isn't there.
Q: Andrew Luck cited being caught in a "cycle of injury, pain and rehab" as a primary reason for his recent and surprising retirement. He also said he had lost the joy to play. Can you relate? What does the body and mind feel like on the Sunday nights and Mondays and Tuesdays after playing in an NFL game?
Crabtree: It's tough. Some nights, it's hard to sleep because something hurts so bad that you can't just relax and decompress. Even though the game's over and you've got a day off, two days off, it doesn't matter. You can't just relax. And then you've got to spend all your time rehabbing or icing something. It's a drain mentally, for sure, to take a beating game after game over the season.