GREEN BAY, Wis. — Mike McCarthy marched quickly to the podium and spoke with the enthusiasm of a teacher greeting students on the first day of school.
With players reporting to Packers training camp on Wednesday, McCarthy seemed as energized as ever going into his 10th season as the coach in Green Bay. Having a talented roster led by MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers will always add a spring to a coach’s step.
"Welcome back. I hope everybody had a great summer," McCarthy said. "I just think it’s another great opportunity for us here in Green Bay."
Most of the starters are returning from a team that fell apart late in a 28-22 loss in Seattle in the NFC Championship game.
More players reported to camp early, McCarthy said. He was so excited about the progress that his team made in the offseason that he said he wanted to "jump right into it tomorrow" for the first day of practice.
There are a few off-field distractions to manage, though.
Starting tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested earlier this month after police in Miami Beach said he allegedly fired two shots into the air during an argument outside a parking garage. McCarthy said he was disappointed by what he called Quarless’ mistake, just like the veteran tight end.
Defensive lineman Letroy Guion could face discipline from the NFL after being charged in connection with a traffic stop in Florida in February. The case was resolved last month, with Guion entering a no contest plea to a drug charge. Another lineman, Datone Jones, has been suspended for the first game this season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
In each case, McCarthy, like team president Mark Murphy, has voiced displeasure with the players’ actions, which are atypical for one of the league’s model franchises. The tolerance level is tougher now than a decade ago, McCarthy said.
The Packers have also shown a willingness to let players repent and learn from mistakes. Players, McCarthy said, know "that our program is about protecting the brand, the tradition and the history of the Green Bay Packers."
"Obviously there (are) mistakes that have been made, you learn from them and you try to move forward — whatever direction you decide," he said.
As for the impact on the field, McCarthy said the biggest challenge would be balancing reps on the defensive line through camp. While Guion could join Jones on the sideline for a short period, the return of veteran lineman B.J. Raji from a biceps injury that forced him to miss the 2014 season should help.
There is a different wrinkle with this camp, too, with McCarthy relinquishing play-calling duties to associate head coach Tom Clements. It is part of McCarthy’s plan to get more involved in overseeing defense and special teams.
He is devoting more time to self-scouting all three areas of the team, and reviewing notes from offseason workouts. McCarthy was also preparing to debut his theme for the season to his squad later Wednesday — and he didn’t offer a preview.
It may have something to do with getting off to a quicker start after opening with a 1-2 record the three previous seasons.
"We’re well aware of what our record’s been … starting off the season," McCarthy said."It’s something that we’re keeping our finger on the pulse and make sure we’re giving our guys the opportunity to come out of the gate fast."
NOTE: With players undergoing physicals on Wednesday morning, McCarthy said he had no updates yet on any injuries, or the progress of players who missed, or were limited, during offseason workouts. The list included WR Jordy Nelson (hip) and CB Casey Hayward (foot).