GREEN BAY — The players gave him a standing ovation on his way in, and they gave him another one on his way out. In between, Mike McCarthy spoke from the heart, as he finally got a chance to say goodbye to his team.
“I think he deserved that,” veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb said of the now ex-Green Bay Packers coach, who addressed the team Wednesday morning — a fact that didn’t come to light until Thursday, when team president/CEO Mark Murphy spoke with Milwaukee-area radio station WTMJ and mentioned McCarthy’s visit.
“It was great. It was great that he had that opportunity. I think he’s given a lot to this organization. Unfortunately, that’s a part of the business, not only for players but for coaches, for everyone. Changes happen.”
The change occurred after last Sunday’s embarrassing 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, when McCarthy was fired with four games remaining in his 13th season as head coach. McCarthy learned his fate after he’d met with the team following the loss and after his postgame news conference, so he never got to speak to the players after Murphy relieved him of his duties.
Joe Philbin, the offensive coordinator who assumed the role of interim head coach, had been through a similar situation in Miami, where the Dolphins fired him as head coach four games into the 2015 season. Philbin, who got choked up during his introductory news conference Monday when he talked about McCarthy, said he had McCarthy over to Lambeau Field on Tuesday to address the coaching staff. That’s when the idea of having him talk to the players on Wednesday morning came up.
“Tuesday we all saw him as a staff, which was great. Then we talked, and he wanted an opportunity to speak with the team. I was 100 percent, fully supportive of (it). And he did a fantastic job talking to the team,” Philbin said Thursday morning. “Not just about football and winning football games, but his passion. His passion for the game, his love for the players was clearly evident. I’m sure it was emotional for him and everybody in the room. It was awesome. I thought he did a great job.
“Hopefully it will help.”
A handful of players asked about McCarthy’s address said they came away impressed. They also felt it provided some needed closure in advance of this Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.
“I thought that was awesome. I know me, personally, Mike did a lot for me, him and Ted (Thompson) bringing me in and being able to play football again,” right guard Justin McCray said. “To see him again and have him be able to say his piece and him saying that he loved us, wished the best for us, I thought that was really good.
“He’s been through a lot the past 72 hours. He was definitely touched, definitely emotional.”
Added defensive tackle Kenny Clark: “He held it together as much as you can. We were surprised he was even coming in. He was emotional about it, we were all emotional about it.”
Ex-University of Wisconsin defensive back Natrell Jamerson’s rookie season has been a whirlwind.
Drafted in the fifth round by the New Orleans Saints in April, Jamerson spent the offseason and training camp with the Saints but was cut at the end of camp. Claimed by the Houston Texans, he played in 10 games for them before being waived earlier this week and claimed by the Packers.
Given the Packers’ injury situation in the secondary and the fact that safety Eddie Pleasant ended up playing last week against Arizona just five days after joining the team, there’s a good chance Jamerson will be active against the Falcons.
“It’s been crazy. Since the draft and New Orleans, being there a few months, then going to Houston, being there a few months, and now I’m up here. It’s been a roller-coaster for sure,” said Jamerson, who drew pre-draft interest from the Packers, who brought him in for an official visit. “But I’m used to change. Nothing’s ever permanent. So I’ve got to take the punches as they come and roll with them.”
A native of Ocala, Florida, Jamerson said he’d love to make Green Bay his permanent football home, and not because he’d be a two-hour drive from Madison.
“Of course. Every opportunity and every time I’m on the field, they’re going to get my ‘A’ effort,” Jamerson said. “I just want to show those other two teams they’re missing out. I’m just trying to show (the Packers) what I can do and put my stamp on my time.”
Rookie long-snapper Hunter Bradley suffered an ankle injury during Wednesday’s practice and didn’t practice on Thursday. Special teams coordinator Ron Zook wouldn’t say who would snap for Bradley if he can’t play. “I don’t know where we’re at with that,” Zook said. Asked if he thought Bradley would be able to play, Zook replied, “I’m not a doctor. I can’t tell you that.” … Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee/illness) did not practice for the second straight day, making it unlikely he’ll play Sunday. Right guard Byron Bell (knee) also did not practice, meaning Jason Spriggs and McCray are in line to start against Atlanta. … Wide receiver Jake Kumerow was attended to by trainers with a finger injury at the end of the open portion of practice but said afterward he merely jammed his ring finger.