It’s been a busy NFL offseason so far. Teams seem to be prioritizing defense, and there have been some big signings all over the league.
Our team had one of them. Adding Julius Peppers was a great move. When I heard that, my first thought was, “We just took another huge step toward the Super Bowl.” It’s going to make a big difference. A lot more tipped balls are going to be coming our way from his side. He’s 6’7”. He gets his hands on a lot of throws.
It’s also going to free up some guys on the other side of the defense. Blockers have to account for him on the other side. Instead of just identifying where Clay is, they have to identify where Julius is, too. That will do a lot for our defense.
In his prime, Peppers was kind of like the LeBron James of our sport. There wasn’t another defensive end like him. He was so tall, athletic, big, fast and strong that it kind of wasn’t fair. But even now, watching some of the highlights, he’s still a nightmare for offenses. I was watching highlights when the signing was announced. On one play, he picked up a fumble, and outran the quarterback AND the running back to the end zone.
He plays with a lot of passion. That’s a good thing to have. It gives us another leader, along with Clay and A.J., for everyone to rally around.
I can learn a lot just from watching him, in terms of things like his work ethic and the way he practices. I think he approaches the game in an elite way that not a lot of other players do. Watching the practice and weight room habits of guys like Peppers and Clay can be helpful for me and everyone else on our defense.
We also added Letroy Guion from the Vikings. I think that guys wanting to come to Green Bay from other NFC North teams says a lot about the respect they have for our organization. It’s well known that we’re a historic franchise, with a great coaching staff and a strong winning tradition. He’ll be another solid addition to our defense.
LOCKING UP LEADERS
I’m glad we were able to keep B.J. Raji. He’s a great guy in the locker room. He’s competitive, and when he speaks up, you know something serious is going on. But he also knows when to keep it light, and is really funny. He’s also the resident sports guy of the locker room, especially as it relates to basketball and college football. He’s a book of knowledge on those two topics.
On the field, B.J. is one of the leaders on our defensive line, a veteran who has proven what he’s capable of. He makes a lot of plays up front that don’t show up on paper. He’s not always the guy to make the tackle or make the sack, but he’s able to really disrupt the play by commanding double teams and forcing cutbacks. Little things like that go a long way.
Having B.J., A.J., Clay and Peppers in the front seven is going to be really nice for us as a secondary. There is going to be a lot of pressure on the quarterback, so we won’t have to cover too long. There will also be a lot of tipped balls for us to go get.
Bringing Sam Shields back was another big move for our team. Look at the numbers he’s put up over the last few years. That’s going to help us a lot. He’s an elite corner and makes our whole defense better. He’s also a guy you like to have in the defensive backs room. Whenever I have questions or see something he does better than I do, I’ll ask him about it. I’ve learned a lot from him and Tramon Williams. Good competition brings out the best in players, so bringing Sam back is only going to make everyone else better.
There’s been a lot of money being spent on secondary players, so I guess it’s a good time to be a defensive back. With prolific quarterbacks and high-flying offenses that score a lot of points, you need good defensive backs to stop them.
We did lose M.D Jennings, who was a starter on our team and one of our key special teams guys. He would do anything that the team asked him to. If anyone was hurt, he was the first one to step in. He really knew how to do a little bit of everything. He will be missed.
ONE LAST TRIP BEFORE BABY
My wife Leatricia is a little over six months along in her pregnancy. We’re getting closer to the big day. So far, things have gone very smoothly. She’s enjoying it, which is good. I’m enjoying getting ready to become a father.
Between getting the room ready and buying baby clothes, it’s getting exciting. We’re taking it slow, so we can enjoy the process and don’t have to run around worrying about it at the end.
We just got back from a nice, relaxing trip to Hawaii. We wanted to get in one last vacation before the baby gets here in early June. (We knew that we wouldn’t be able to take a trip for much longer because soon, Leatricia won’t be able to fly on an airplane.) We decided kind of spur of the moment to take a trip over there to see a friend of ours.
We were over there for five days, and got in some fun activities along with relaxing. One of the days, we went snorkeling while we were there. That was a lot of fun. I’d never done anything like that before. We didn’t go deep into the water or gear up too much. We just stayed near the surface. But it was still pretty cool because we got to see some fish and some dolphins. Another day, we decided to try a canoe ride, and rowed about a half a mile out in the ocean, where we got to see some whales.
I also played a couple rounds of golf while we were there. My wife played some as well, but we didn’t really keep score. I was just focused on getting better and making some good shots. (I think I’m getting better.) It’s definitely a fun and relaxing pastime for me.
I’ve been making a lot of progress in my offseason workouts since we got back from Hawaii. One of my goals this offseason is to improve the strength in my legs and really get them underneath me a lot more. When the fourth quarter of a game comes around, I want to make sure I’m able to finish strong.
March is all about fine-tuning so that when April rolls around and I start some of the heavy lifting, the routine isn’t new to me, and my body isn’t as sore after workouts. At this point, I’m in there for three hours every day.
I recently added weight training and squatting to my routine to take that next step in training. I’ve been doing a lot of extra running as well.
I like to have a little variety in my workouts. Sometimes I’ll just go in the basketball gym to shoot, and run the court for some conditioning. It’s a fun way of doing it rather than just running line to line.
Once April comes, I’ll be doing more benching, squatting and power lifting. I’ll also be getting on the turf for backpedaling, as well as watching some game tape so I can get to work on correcting things. It’s a big offseason for me, but that’s true every year. I don’t really look at this one any differently.
My focus is to keep getting better.