The Green Bay Packers' 2017 season starts here: in OTA's this week.
The foundation laid during practices and meetings this week is essential, according to Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
"You always start in the same place, no matter how many rookies you have," he said Tuesday. "Big picture, to me, is staying on pace... To maximize the workload regulation these four weeks is my goal."
The Packers had a busy offseason, signing five free agents, the team's highest number since 2006. And when the draft came, Green Bay selected 10 players, the most draftees since 2013. That means there are plenty new faces to learn in the locker room.
"I actually don't know all of them yet. Some of them are still a little nervous to come up and introduce themselves to me. I realize that's a thing as I get older," said Aaron Rodgers. "Some of them might start coming sitting next to you for breakfast and lunch and start a conversation, which I enjoy to get to know the guys during this time, kind of seeing their personalities start to come out."
One of those rookies who precariously introduced himself to Rodgers was safety and second-round draft pick Josh Jones.
"I didn't want to like, go up to him, and like, 'Hey Aaron, what's up?' I wanted to play it cool, you know," Josh said. "Now I'm in the NFL. I'm not watching him on TV anymore, so I just wanted to play it cool, like 'What's up man, I'm Josh'"
New addition Martellus Bennett, though, is far from an NFL rookie, having played in the league since 2008, most recently winning Super Bowl LI with the Patriots. Although he's new to Green Bay, the tight end is taking it upon himself to lead the team and create bonds in the preseason.
"As a team overall, you know, guys hanging out, having lunch together, doesn't matter if I'm hanging out with a DB or a linebacker, or going to a movie with a defensive lineman, offensive lineman," he said. "Being able to mingle with all of the guys and bridge both sides of the ball, I think that's important.
Rodgers agrees that Bennett was a huge offseason acquisition for the Packers, personally and professionally.
"He brings a different type of attitude. He is a very interesting person," Rodgers said of Bennett. "He cares about football, he cares about dominating, he brings that grit and that attitude to the field, where he wants to dominate the guy over him. And I think he's going to bring some extra confidence to the locker room, which we need."
The Packers will continue OTA's, with the next public session being Thursday, June 1 at 11:30 a.m. CT at Clarke Hinkle Field.