GREEN BAY - Lerentee McCray hopes to earn a role at outside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers this season, but he stepped away for a day last week to spend time with some old friends.
McCray, 25, was at the White House last week to meet President Barack Obama and be honored along with the rest of the Denver Broncos for winning Super Bowl 50 in February.
It was the second time McCray has visited President Obama at the White House, the first coming after the University of Florida won the national championship when he was a freshman in 2008.
“The White House was great, man,” McCray said Tuesday after the Packers' first minicamp session. “It’s an exciting experience. … It was a great experience going back.”
It also allowed McCray to see his former Denver teammates again after he left the Broncos and signed a one-year contract with the Packers in April.
McCray was in for 28 special-teams plays in the Super Bowl, making a key block that helped Denver's Jordan Norwood set a Super Bowl record with a 61-yard punt return that almost went for a touchdown.
“I can’t even explain it, it’s the pinnacle of football,” McCray said of the Broncos' 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. “You are world champs. That pretty much speaks for itself. It’s something that everybody wants as a child if they dream of playing football. As a grown man and a professional, they dream of playing in a Super Bowl. It’s something that I got to do early in my career.
“My rookie year I had to sit and watch from the sidelines being on IR (with an ankle injury). But this year actually going and competing and actually winning it was like, I was just in awe being on that field with the guys that I was and be able to send Peyton Manning out the right way.”
McCray has yet to practice with the Packers since signing his contract and has battled injuries throughout his college and NFL career. An ankle injury wiped out his rookie year, and he has yet to play a full 16-game season.
McCray said he will be on the field for training camp and insisted he’s not hurt. When pressed, he said the reason for his inactivity was "undisclosed” and again reiterated he’d be ready for camp.
“I’m just waiting,” McCray said. “I had a long season. I went like four weeks longer than these guys did. So it’s just a little break.”
Packers special-teams coach Ron Zook said McCray is "an athletic guy ... he likes to play football. I'm looking forward to getting him on the field and seeing where the best place is for him and where he can help us."
The Broncos didn’t offer McCray a restricted free-agent tender, which meant he was free to sign with any team. He didn’t want to leave Denver, but he knew his outside-linebacker opportunity was limited playing behind Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett.
Of course, not much has changed here.
“I have got some great athletes in front of me,” McCray said. “Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Julius Peppers, but I feel real good about the opportunity to come here and have a chance to play on a team and be able to compete for a world title again. I like my chances as far as playing.”
McCray said he had other free-agent visits set up but that Green Bay was the right place. He thinks other than the terminology the Packers’ defense is very similar to the ones he played in Denver and Florida.
“I’m just happy I got another opportunity to play football,” McCray said. “I can’t be mad at anybody at any point in time. It’s the business of football.
“Coming from Denver, it’s an easy transition. This is a program built on winning. It’s a great program. A prestigious program throughout the history of the NFL.”