No Favre or Twitter during GB Camp
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Brett Favre's unretirement circus gave the Green Bay Packers' training camp a distinct reality-television feel last year. This time around, the Packers are hoping for more of a C-SPAN vibe: delightfully drama-free, with a focus on nuts-and-bolts issues.
Favre is remaining retired instead of joining the division rival Minnesota Vikings -- for now, anyway -- allowing the Packers to forget about their former No. 4 and prepare for the upcoming season without any anticipated major distractions.
Coach Mike McCarthy called the Favre situation "old news" Friday.
"I think last year is an outstanding opportunity to look back on and learn from, and that's really how we've addressed it as a football team," McCarthy said. "You have to deal with distractions and you have to keep it on the road, keep moving forward."
Meanwhile, McCarthy also is paying attention to a new way people get news. According to running back Ryan Grant, McCarthy will fine players who post to their Twitter accounts during team activities this season.
"Which I think is fine since we are focused," Grant posted on his account Friday, presumably on his own time.
A team spokesman confirmed the no-Twitter policy Friday evening.
It was not immediately clear how much the team's per-Tweet fine would be. However, McCarthy noted after a media member's cell phone went off during Friday's news conference that the reporter would have been subject to a $1,701 fine if he or she was a Packers player and the same thing happened during a team meeting.
"We just went through the fine list, so I just thought I'd let you know that," McCarthy joked.
Favre, Twitter and cell phone frivolity aside, the Packers will hit the practice field for the first time Saturday afternoon.
The team dodged another potential distraction when Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins reported to camp Friday despite hinting strongly last month that he was unhappy with his contract and might consider holding out of camp in protest.
There's still the small matter of getting big defensive tackle B.J. Raji signed. Raji, who was taken with the No. 9 overall pick in April's draft, had not agreed to a deal as of Friday afternoon -- the only Packers draft pick who had yet to sign.
McCarthy held out hope a contract could be worked out before Saturday's practice.
"We don't practice tomorrow until mid-afternoon," McCarthy said. "That is a lot of time in contract negotiations. But you don't ever want to see a young player miss snaps. They are important, no doubt."
Assuming the Raji deal gets done soon, the Packers will be able to concentrate on continuing their transition to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Dom Capers and finding a stable starting five on the offensive line.
If those two elements come together quickly, and the Packers can avoid the rash of injuries that hit them last year, they should be in position to improve on last season's disappointing 6-10 record.
"(We) would like to put it to bed," McCarthy said, referring to last season. "We talked about that today. I'll tell you this: I always refer to it as the lessons of 2008. It gets me up every day. It still burns my gut, and they know about it. I'm sure they are tired of hearing about it. Once again, they are experiences that you need to learn from, both positive and negative."
McCarthy downplayed the idea that there is more pressure on him coming off a losing season, and reiterated that he expects the Packers to contend.
"Am I convinced? I'm a realist, but I have a very optimistic personality," McCarthy said. "So we're trying to win them all. To answer your question, yes, we're better than 6-10."
NOTES: McCarthy said linebacker Nick Barnett, who is coming off major knee surgery, did not pass his physical examination Friday and will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform (PUP) list. McCarthy did not provide a timeline for Barnett's return, but said he is "definitely headed in the right direction." ... Linebacker Brad Jones, a seventh-round draft pick, also failed his physical and will begin the season on the PUP list. ... Saturday's practice will be the first on the team's refurbished practice facility, Ray Nitschke Field. The field features about 1,500 permanent grandstand seats for fans to use during training camp. Part of the field surface is heated, allowing for more outdoor practices during winter weather.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)