GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers could sense a special vibe in the air when the Green Bay Packers returned for the start of the offseason program on April 18.
The Packers quarterback, a veteran mainstay at voluntary workouts, has learned over the years that one of the telltale signs of locker-room chemistry is atmosphere in the first team meeting.
The general rule? The noisier, the better.
“When (coach) Mike (McCarthy) has to kind of quiet guys down, when it’s not just quiet right when he walks in, you know there’s a good energy in the room,” said Rodgers two weeks ago.
McCarthy, speaking to the media for the first time since the team returned, concurred with Rodgers when asked about his quarterback’s assessment of the team following the conclusion of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
With 59 returning players with ties to the 2015 team, there is a feeling of unfinished business in the locker room given how last season ended.
“I agree with Aaron. It’s a great vibe,” McCarthy said. “When you walked into the team meeting room on Monday (April 18), you would’ve thought we were preparing for a playoff game. It felt like they never left.”
So far, McCarthy reports the team has had perfect attendance during the early portion of the offseason program, which began with a two-week strength and conditioning period.
McCarthy has been steadfast in his assertion that participation in the nine-week offseason program plays a critical role in the Packers developing their young roster into a championship-caliber team.
McCarthy, entering his 10th season as head coach, lauded newly signed tight end Jared Cook for how quickly he’s transitioned into the locker room and praised running back Eddie Lacy for being further ahead in the program this year.
Furthermore, the Packers welcomed seven new draft choices this weekend that they’ll begin to integrate into their program beginning at the team’s upcoming rookie orientation camp.
As great as it was to add y9ung prospects to the positional ranks, the most immediate improvement will come from those returning players from last year’s team.
“Our No. 1 opportunity for improvement is the nine-week offseason program,” McCarthy said. “We had 63 players under contract that first day and those men sitting in the room, they are going to impact our football team the most as we move forward. I’ve always believed that. That’s how we set this thing up.”