Greatest Ability Will Be Availability, Accountability

Bill Huber

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Availability is the greatest ability.

That tried-and-true statement, a favorite among coaches, will be especially true in this unprecedented NFL season. Players who are free of COVID-19 will be able to compete for jobs in training camp and compete on Sundays.

However, another word could be added to that phrase.

It’s accountability.

Accountability and availability will be the greatest ability. Without accountability, a player or coach could take down a big chunk of his team and ruin an entire season.

“I think around here we’ve always put the reliability, the dependability factor as a major part of our evaluation process, and this year more so than any,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said in his pre-training camp Zoom call on Sunday. “For us to accomplish the things we want to accomplish this season, guys are going to have to make the right choices when they leave the building. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve always believed football is the ultimate team game and this year more so than ever. It’s going to be dependent on how each one of us, not just the players but everybody in our building, to make good choices when they leave the building.”

During a typical training camp, teams would already be practicing in pads. During this training camp, the start of camp has been limited to COVID tests and physicals. Teams will ease into football for the next couple of weeks before the first padded practice on Aug. 17.

As of midday Sunday, the Packers have three players on their COVID-19 reserve lists, with kicker Mason Crosby, tight end Jace Sternberger and outside linebacker Greg Roberts. Only one player, receiver Devin Funchess, has opted out of the season. Gutekunst didn’t anticipate anyone else would opt out before the deadline, which could come as soon as Tuesday. The Patriots, by contrast, had an eighth player opt out on Sunday.

While Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur spoke optimistically of the team’s safety protocols, Major League Baseball was confident, as well, but has been unable to keep some teams on the field. Football, clearly, is a different sport than baseball and transmission of the virus would seem more likely given the physical contact.

That’s a reality Gutekunst was keenly aware of. It’s not if there will be bad news. It’s when. The key will be limiting the outbreak and the impact.

“We’re going to have positive tests,” he said. “This virus that we’re dealing with, we’re going to have that and it’s not going to be always, just because someone gets it, be their fault. So, the dependability, the availability of players, the teams that do that and overcome that and rise to the challenge are going to be the ones who are left standing, fighting at the end. So, it’s a big part of what we’re trying to express to our entire organization.”

That messaging of accountability and availability will be central in LaFleur’s presentations to his team from August through December (and, perhaps, beyond). If there’s going to be an NFL season, and if the Packers are going to win this season, it’s going to take a total team effort in making the right decisions.

“I think that’s the whole key,” LaFleur said. “If we’re going to have football played this year, it’s going to take a lot of self-discipline and a lot of self-accountability. It’s not just our players, I mean, it starts with our staff. Really anybody that comes in contact with our players, they have got to be very mindful of what they’re doing outside of this building. So, certainly, we’re going to encourage our guys, and if they choose to go out in public, to mask up. We’re all in this sucker together, that’s for sure.”

PACKERS ROSTER COUNTDOWN

Part 1 (87 to 90): FB Elijah Wellman, FB Jordan Jones, G Zack Johnson, S Henry Black

Part 2 (83 to 86): CBs DaShaun Amos, Will Sunderland, Stanford Samuels, Marc-Antoine Dequoy

Part 3 (80 to 82): DT Willington Previlon, RB Damarea Crockett, S Frankie Griffin

Part 4 (77 to 79): G Simon Stepaniak, G Cole Madison, T Cody Conway

Part 5 (76): QB Jalen Morton can throw a football 100 yards

Part 6 (73 to 75) TE James Looney, TE Evan Baylis, RB Patrick Taylor

Part 7 (70 to 72) OLBs Jamal Davis, Randy Ramsey, Greg Roberts

Part 8 (67 to 69) LBs Krys Barnes, Delontae Scott, Tipa Galeai

No. 66: Well-rounded OT Travis Bruffy

No. 65: WR Malik Taylor

No. 64: WR Darrius Shepherd

No. 63: RB Dexter Williams

No. 62: DT Gerald Willis (Note: Released on July 26)

No. 61: ILB Curtis Bolton

No. 60: CB Kabion Ento

No. 59: C Jake Hanson

No. 58: OLB Jonathan Garvin

No. 57: OT John Leglue

No. 56: DT Treyvon Hester

No. 55: WR Darrell Stewart

No. 54: WR Reggie Begelton

No. 53: S Vernon Scott

No. 52: OLB Tim Williams

No. 51: Ka’darHollman

No. 50: G/T Jon Runyan

No. 49: WR Jake Kumerow

No. 48: OT Alex Light

No. 47: TE Robert Tonyan

No. 46: LS Hunter Bradley

No. 45: DT Montravius Adams

No. 44: ILB Kamal Martin

No. 43: OT Yosh Nijman

No. 42: S Will Redmond

No. 41: G/C Lucas Patrick

No. 40: ILB Ty Summers

No. 39: WR Equanimeous St. Brown

No. 38: TE Josiah Deguara

No. 37: RB Tyler Ervin

No. 36: Lane Taylor

No. 35: RB AJ Dillon

No. 34: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

No. 33: DT Tyler Lancaster

No. 32: CB Josh Jackson

No. 31: WR Devin Funchess (Note: Funchess has opted out of the 2020 season.)

No. 30: S Raven Greene

No. 29: TE Marcedes Lewis

No. 28: DT Kingsley Keke

No. 27: ILB Oren Burks

No. 26: P JK Scott

No. 25: QB Tim Boyle

No. 24: OLB Rashan Gary

No. 23: RB Jamaal Williams

No. 22: RG Billy Turner

No. 21: QB Jordan Love

No. 20: TE Jace Sternberger

No. 19: DT Dean Lowry

No. 18: G Elgton Jenkins

No. 17: CB Chandon Sullivan

No. 16: WR Allen Lazard

No. 15: C Corey Linsley

No. 14: K Mason Crosby

No. 13: S Adrian Amos

No. 12: CB Kevin King

No. 11: S Darnell Savage

No. 10: RT Rick Wagner

No. 9: OLB Preston Smith

No. 8: ILB Christian Kirksey

No. 7: CB Jaire Alexander

No. 6: RB Aaron Jones

No. 5: DT Kenny Clark

No. 4: LT David Bakhtiari

No. 3: WR Davante Adams

No. 2: OLB Za’Darius Smith

No. 1: QB Aaron Rodgers

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