Offseason creates challenges on, off field for Packers

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Damarious Randall dodges trouble, free agency spurs lots of speculation
They say it’s better to be good than lucky. Damarious Randall is both.
The Packers’ promising second-year cornerback had a brush with Scottsdale, Ariz., police last week that nearly changed his outlook on the upcoming NFL season. Randall, who was driving a vehicle with two passengers, was pulled over for a failure to have the car’s license plate visibly displayed. The ensuing police search discovered the smell of marijuana and a box containing three marijuana cigarettes.
Houston Texans wide receiver Jaelen Strong, a teammate of Randall’s at Arizona State, was cited with marijuana possession. Randall and the other passenger weren’t charged and were released at the scene.
Randall, along with second-round pick Quinten Rollins, had a terrific rookie season. They represent the Packers’ future at cornerback through this decade at least. Randall’s reckless and immature behavior nearly cost him and his team dearly. Here is hoping that the close call proves to be a lesson learned, and that Randall continues on his upwardly mobile path as a person and professional.
Consider it a free pass, like the back judge missing a pass interference call, except it’s a whole lot more serious.
In other Packers’ news:

Peyton Manning Retires

Peyton Manning’s retirement announcement at Monday’s news conference conjured many memories. I was reminded of Manning’s greatness, first at the University of Tennessee, and then with the Colts and Broncos. Manning’s decision was at once obvious and correct.
Fortunately for Packers fans, they don’t have to sit and wonder what it must be like for a franchise to see a great quarterback step into retirement. Brett Favre, who will be enshrined this summer in Canton, Ohio, surely came to mind. I wasn’t thinking about the “will he or won’t he?” questions so much as his greatness.
Manning, Favre and Tom Brady rate among the top handful of quarterbacks in NFL history. I’m not crazy about trying to rank them. I will say that each had tremendous similarities – arm strength, toughness, leadership – that help make a great NFL quarterback.
However, they also were just different enough to spark conversation.
I always admired Manning’s command at the line of scrimmage. It was as if he surveyed the defensive secondary with X-ray vision. Then, he made the adjustments, took the snap and threw an often less-than-perfect spiral that merely landed on the mark. He did this time and time again.
With Brady, I always admired his moxie and his unselfishness. Brady, more than any of the great quarterbacks with the exception of the San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Montana, had no problem handing off the football if the situation demanded it.
Brady wouldn’t flinch at running the football when it is most difficult for the great QBs: In the red zone with the game on the line. Brady, who also is adroit at the quarterback draw, knew how to use his arm to set up the run and vice-versa. I suspect his defensive-minded head coach, Bill Belichick, might have something to do with developing this trait.
Favre was amazing in so many ways it’s not easy pinpointing the trait I most admire. I will say Favre’s ability to bring it every day at practice, whether it was hot or cold, rainy or sunny, inside or out, it just didn’t matter. Favre would help him and his teammates get through it with a laugh here, a sharp comment there – whatever it took to motivate and push through.
Favre’s toughness is legendary, although as much as it’s talked about, I still don’t believe NFL fans truly understand it.
He would’ve tried to play if he was so sick he had to crawl on his stomach to Lambeau Field. That’s just the way he was and it never wavered. A lot of it was his love of the game, just like he hated to miss school because he loved recess so much. Some of it was of insecurity that if he turned over the huddle to another QB he might not get it back.
No matter. Favre played well enough, long enough, to become a first ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback.
In five years – and the clock is ticking – Peyton Manning will join him there.

McCarthy interviewed Kolby Listenbee

The Packers’ head coach, Mike McCarthy, interviewed TCU receiver Kolby Listenbee during the recent NFL combine, according to JSOnline’s Bob McGinn.
Listenbee, who is 6 feet, 197 pounds, caught 30 passes for 597 yards and five touchdowns last season. His 19.4-yards per catch average ranked 11th in the nation.
Most notable is Listenbee’s 40-yard dash time, which puts him in the 4.3-range as a bona fide deep threat. NFL scouts have him rated as a third- to fourth-round selection.
It’s encouraging that the Packers’ coaches are making sure to consider a speedster at wide receiver. Once the 2015 season faded the conversation regarding the Packers’ needs shifted away from receiver and toward tight end, inside linebacker and defensive line.
In fact, I’m an advocate of selecting not one but two inside linebackers in the first four rounds if the possibility is there. However, let’s not forget about the Packers’ offensive struggles, particularly in the passing game where Green Bay lacked threats on the perimeter and over the middle.
In 2011, the Packers scored 560 points and finished 15-1. Jordy Nelson (68 catches, 15 TDs), Greg Jennings (67, 9) Jermichael Finley (55, 8), James Jones (38, 7), Donald Driver (37, 6) and rookie Randall Cobb (25, 1) combined to be one of the most potent collections of weaponry in team history.
Six of the top seven receivers averaged 12 or more yards per catch. It was insane. How would the current Packers’ weaponry stack up? Not good. Nelson would be Nelson, but after that it’s dicey. Cobb would be Jennings; a question mark would be Finley; Davante Adams would be Jones; Ty Montgomery would be Driver; and Jeff Janis would be Cobb.

Eddie Lacy Slims Down

Here’s some good news: Eddie Lacy’s pictures out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, reveal a slightly slimmer Lacy. He is working with P90X’s Tony Horton.
Stay tuned.

Forte signing with New England?

Reports suggest ex-Bears free agent running back Matt Forte might be leaning toward signing with New England. I hope not.
I still believe the Packers would benefit mightily from signing Forte to use as a third-down back and in key situations to counterbalance Lacy.
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio ( Havel also hosts Event USA’s MVP Parties the evening before home games.