Packers Veterans Mentoring Rookies at OTAs

The Green Bay Packers wrapped up OTAs this week and the team will not be together again until the opening of training camp late next month.

During OTAs and mandatory minicamp, the Packers showed that they had a key component to creating a winning culture: veteran players on both sides of the ball were mentoring younger players to help the team get better.

On defense, All Pro inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell was already mentoring first-round draft pick Quay Walker.

Walker admitted he looked at Campbell as a role model. “I watch him a whole lot,” Walker was quoted as saying by the Packers official Twitter account during OTAs. “Just try to learn as much as I can from him.”

This week, Campbell tweeted back, “I try to help and give as much advice as I can even though he doesn’t really need it he already a baller. Very smart Young Man with a great future ahead of him.”

The addition of Walker will give the Packers a pair of inside linebackers who can stay on the field on all three downs, something the team has lacked for many years. This will allow Joe Barry’s unit to play a light box less often and should improve the team’s run defense.

Both Campbell and Walker should be able to blitz the quarterback on occasion as well which will give the defense more ways to pressure the quarterback and disrupt an offense’s gameplan.

On the offensive side of the ball, veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb has been mentoring the Packers younger wideouts during OTAs and minicamp. The Packers drafted three wide receivers this year in second round pick Christian Watson, fourth round selection Romeo Doubs and seventh rounder Samori Toure. Last year’s third-round pick, Amari Rodgers, has also been learning from Cobb as he enters his second training camp.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been criticized by some fans and members of the media for not attending voluntary OTAs. But Rodgers said that Cobb can teach the young receivers most of what they need to know at OTAs when Rodgers wasn’t there.

“We’ve got my closest buddy on the team with those guys every single day, Randall Cobb. And he’s been here the entire time, just about,” Rodgers said during mandatory minicamp. “So, he’s passing along everything they need to know about playing with me, and the expectations and the signals and the unspoken communication and non-verbal stuff. And they just have to feel me once we get back for training camp and it gets real.”

Cobb has also helped Doubs in practice fielding punts. Cobb was returning punts and kickoffs early in his career before he learned to play receiver in the NFL and became a full-time starter in his fourth season.

The mentoring of the receivers has gone beyond just Cobb. Cornerback Jaire Alexander has also been giving second-round pick Christian Watson some extra attention at OTAs to help make him better. It’s similar to what Rodgers and Davante Adams did last year to rookie cornerback Eric Stokes. They “picked on” him in training camp to help speed up his development and get him up to speed. It worked well as Stokes took the constructive criticism in a positive way as an opportunity to learn from some of the best in the game. He made the NFL All-Rookie Team after being thrust into a starting role early in the season due to injuries to Kevin King and Jaire Alexander.

Watson is also viewing what Alexander is doing in a positive light. “It only makes me better,” Watson said. “He'll tell me straight up exactly why he broke on my route, exactly which indicator I gave on the route, and I know if I get open then I know it was a great route for me. It's definitely a great experience to get to go up against him and him obviously coaching me up, even though I'm on the other side of the ball.”

The preparations for the 2022 NFL season will continue when all the Packers players return to Green Bay for training camp in late July. Between now and then, the young players will have to study their playbooks and prepare for their first NFL experience. But knowing there are experienced mentors like Cobb, Alexander and Campbell on the roster will only help accelerate that process and make the Packers a better team.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (26)

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mnbadger's picture

June 16, 2022 at 12:15 pm

Great article Gil. Other stories talked about the same type of mentoring on the offensive and defensive lines. Veterans coaching up young guns. I don't remember this many articles of this type in years past? Seems like a new mentality is permeating. Not just kissing the ring of qb1 and wr1 but working together to make the whole team better, including ST's!
Damn I'm ready to go! GPG!

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GilMartin's picture

June 16, 2022 at 01:21 pm

Thanks mnbadger, glad you enjoyed it. Hope it is a positive development as far as attitude goes for this team. I'm ready for the season to start also. Hope we all enjoy the ride.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

June 17, 2022 at 04:38 pm

This is not a new mentality; at least not in the recent era. Rodgers has mentored young QBs and young WRs, instructing on them on what he needs to see from them. So has Davante Adams worked with younger WRs, citing the instruction he got from guys like Jordy. Same on the defensive line. I don't get the "kissing the ring," comment, as we have seen no indication of that kind of culture coming out of GB at all.

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packer132's picture

June 16, 2022 at 12:27 pm

It's hard to say if this is a different attitude with the team this year. I think the players see the potential to win the Super Bowl and leaders are taking an extra step to help the rookies. We really didn't hear about that much in the past. It's a good mix of vets and young guys along with a couple of new coaches. I can't wait until week #1 to see a very strong team. It looks to me like an improvement of the roster each of the last 3 years with few holes.

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croatpackfan's picture

June 16, 2022 at 03:09 pm

Nice overview pointing out what was the most important part of rookie's learning how to live & play in NFL. It is great...

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Swisch's picture

June 16, 2022 at 04:51 pm

Just as long as arrogant Rodgers isn't bothered with this kind of frivolous team stuff.
I mean, our funky QB just led us to a Super Bowl . . . um, well . . . I guess about a dozen years ago. What does he have to prove anymore?
Please tell us, Aaron, why you didn't hit a wide-open Allen Lazard in a key moment of the playoff game against the 49ers last January. Was it that Lazard hadn't learned to read your sophisticated ways?
Perhaps, unaccountable Rodgers, it's you who needs to mature and step up your game.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

June 17, 2022 at 04:50 pm

You're still hammering on one play? I'm sure you're perfect in your workday, particularly in the highest pressure situations.

I'm glad Rodgers is arrogant. He deserves to be arrogant. You think other Super Bowl winning QBs aren't arrogant? Think Brady isn't? Russell Wilson isn't? Roethlisberger isn't? Oh yeah, it comes with playing perhaps the toughest position to play in all of sports; diagnosing what is happening and making the right choice and executing while the biggest, strongest, fastest humans are trying to drive you into the ground. He's earned arrogance in 17 seasons and 4 MVPs.

In case you haven't noticed, Rodgers did step up his game the last 3 seasons, and the team has a 13-3, 13-3, and 14-3 record. You want to find a humble QB to follow that never makes the playoffs, good for you. I'll follow the guy who just won the MVP award two seasons in a row, and hope their offensive line stays together, and injuries don't derail a key position group.

That loss is as much on LaFleur and special teams as it is on Rodgers. Not having Dillon and MVS and two pro bowl offensive line players didn't help either.

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TarynsEyes's picture

June 16, 2022 at 06:20 pm

Yes, every player is the greatest, smartest, most coachable, first to arrive and last to leave, blah, blah, blah, until they show they aren't when it counts.

I'd appreciate once, to hear a player say, He isn't what he thinks he is about another. I mean, they cannot all be in awe of each other. We fans can see it at times, surely, the players see it also quicker than fans.

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Oppy's picture

June 16, 2022 at 06:33 pm

Yes, of course. Telling the media your team mate sucks is the key to building a unified championship locker room.

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TarynsEyes's picture

June 16, 2022 at 08:38 pm

Yes, and constant smoke blowing up each other's arse has done wonders since 2010, so many Division Titles and worn-out couches come February.

Remember all the praise bestowed on Nick Perry that paid off so well. 7 seasons of failure, due to disappearing against better offenses, struggling against worse, and injuries that wouldn't end, but he did appear to be like the Blind Squirrel and found a nut once in a while, but after being released not one team brought him in for a tryout. But, all the players said he was this and that. for 7 years. How about Jerel (The Worthless) Worthy and the many others. Truth hurts and players need to hear it at times as it could be the better medicine for what ails them. Reality is the only way. Truth should make you stronger.

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 16, 2022 at 09:34 pm

You must be a straight up blast at parties.

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TarynsEyes's picture

June 16, 2022 at 11:13 pm

You can't be honest at a party and have fun? Your parties are full of liars? And you prefer that?

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Johnblood27's picture

June 17, 2022 at 08:48 am

Oh meanie Taryn, don't melt all the snowflakes with your mean stare...

Give 'em hell when they deserve it.

No harm in being positive when deserving either.

Doing both builds the respect others have for you, if not, you are hanging around the wrong people. Build a better life starting with yourself - be honest for a change!

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 17, 2022 at 04:57 pm

It seems you equate being negative with being truthful, as I haven't seen one positive thing come from you since I've been on here.

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 17, 2022 at 09:02 am

Most party goers who show up full of negativity and constant complaining quickly end up at a "party of one".

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 17, 2022 at 09:04 am

Most party goers who show up full of negativity and constant complaining quickly end up at a "party of one".

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croatpackfan's picture

June 18, 2022 at 02:49 am

Well, it is interesting how many people is keen to be "positive" even if it come with lying. Why many can not understand that you can be truthful and positive?

And yes, I will confirm that myself rather attends "party of one" than be surrounded with lot of people who demands servile talk and lying them just to be at party.

I believe you missed main point - you can tell the truth on a way nobody will be offended. Well, except the narcisoid arrogant person(s) who believe he is perfect!

But those persons will always transfer their mistakes on others, blaming them for failure.

To be great man means you support others through their mistakes, especially if comes from unexperience of them, contrary to angry staring at them in front of whole stadium and TV audience. Or by ignoring others on the "party" pushing your "friend" for better stats... And so on, and so on.

I find nothing "negative" or offensive in neither of 2 posts placed by TarynsEyes, just his opinion I considered as his truthful view on the subject.

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Oppy's picture

June 17, 2022 at 04:58 am

Nick Perry didn't have a talent problem, he didn't have a motivation problem, he had an injury problem. (That's an argument we've had previously.)

What is your point about Jerel Worthy? The Packers drafted him in the 2nd round, realized they made a mistake and he didn't play out his rookie contract- he played in 16 total games over two years- and the Packers traded him away. So what's the issue? By the way, if the answer was publicly humiliating him and that's all he really needed to succeed, you'd think one of his hundreds of team mates or coaches over his 7 year NFL career across 6 teams would have figured it out.

You really think that what players tell the media equates to what is going down in the locker room? You think these players don't get critiqued every day on the practice field? In the tape room?? Guys get eviscerated every day on the training field and during film study. Players and coaches don't generally dish on inner workings of the team. These guys are groomed for PR. Teams consider the media outsiders and treat them as such.

There's more 'truth' inside a sports team locker room than -you- can handle, that much I'm sure of.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

June 17, 2022 at 04:57 pm

I did a bunch of research on Nick Perry back in the day when everyone was blasting him for not being available. What I found at the time is that when he was on the field, he was impactful. There are metrics that look at QB sacks, hits, hurries, TFLs etc, per snap. What I found is that Perry was quite a presence when he was healthy and on the field. We saw it in 2016, his best season. But his career was derailed by injuries. I don't remember reading anything that suggested it was a conditioning issue or something the player caused. I'm not one that blames injuries on the player unless it is related to how they take care of their body. Perry was a good player. Sure there are plenty of poor draft picks. But the fact that your references are guys both drafted exactly ten years ago is telling in and of itself.

What players or coaches are telling the media has zero to do with what what they are saying in the building. I feel pretty sure NFL coaches tell the truth to players about their need for improvement. I don't see the Packers coddling anybody.

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Oppy's picture

June 17, 2022 at 06:18 pm

Believe it or not, I agree with this 100%.

I also deep-dived the numbers at the time and was very vocal about Perry's actual impact when healthy.

Lots of folks claiming he had no talent, or that he only played during his contract year then gave up. It's all hogwash. Nick Perry was a good football player who did everything in his power to help the Packers win, but in the end, injuries prevented him from seeing his full potential. By all accounts a good man that was wrongfully maligned by a good number of Packers fans.

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Johnblood27's picture

June 17, 2022 at 08:45 am

I have found that a bar of soap in a sock works better than a media expose'

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

June 17, 2022 at 09:27 am

T-Eyes: You probably will not hear any player say the things you want to hear because that said player will not have made the team. The negativeness itself will make the player play badly.
Just consider your situation. I don't know about whether you are an ex-NFL player or ex-(insert name of great team) player. Probably not... if not, you know why; it's because you are always negative. But that's OK. I'm just glad that the Packers players or not negative like you.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

June 17, 2022 at 04:59 pm

Both negative and seems to take losses personally as if the players lost on purpose to break the fans' hearts.

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HarryHodag's picture

June 17, 2022 at 08:24 am

I don't think Matt LF gets enough credit for establishing an atmosphere where players feel comfortable with each other. In the old days rookies were hazed and veterans rarely talked to them. The modern coach sees a need to have everyone contribute so the faster the rookies catch on the better. Free agency and injuries can leave gaping holes in a hurry so the youngest(cheapest) players move to the top more quickly.

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Oppy's picture

June 17, 2022 at 06:21 pm

I think you spelled Coach McCarthy's name wrong :)

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Break7bg's picture

June 17, 2022 at 09:51 am

When it comes to quality, the team is treated the same as business. In business, the next in the process customer has certain attributes that must be error-free. So, the system that MLF uses is like that. Tell the QB what you expect. Tell the WR what you expect. Tell the DB what you expect, etc. This works big time. I expect the entire team to reach high-quality status with these mentors. I want a Super Bowl. This team wants a Super Bowl. When expectations are high, quality will be delivered. Bank it!

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