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Amid 'scrub-brush approach,' Packers keep Aaron Rodgers' experience in mind

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- While coach Mike McCarthy and his staff may have taken a "scrub-brush approach" to the Green Bay Packers' offensive playbook this offseason, they're not doing away with everything -- not with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback.

While McCarthy believes the changes will be good for Rodgers as he enters his 14th NFL season, he was also mindful of the experience and institutional knowledge Rodgers has collected in his 10 years as the starter.

For instance, McCarthy said new offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who held that same position from 2007 through 2011, came back and wanted to alter the way the Packers huddle on offense. And while Philbin had good reasons to back up his suggestion, McCarthy ultimately scuttled the idea because he knows Rodgers uses that time to collect information about the defense -- looking out over his teammates to glean intel on the formation, substitutions and other subtleties he puts to use before and after the snap.

"And it was a great conversation. All the reasons why [Philbin and the other offensive coaches] wanted to do it; it was great. And then at the end of it I said, ‘All right, we're not going to do it,'" McCarthy explained. "I mean, [Rodgers] has done it forever and there's a reason why [we do it the way we do it]. And there's things that he does when we're in the huddle, that he can see and vantage points. I didn't see the benefit of changing it."

That said, McCarthy does see the benefit of the changes in keeping things fresh for Rodgers, who is the team's longest-tenured player and who has had extensive input into the game plan during the week since becoming the starter in 2008. The Packers reconvene next Monday for the start of their official offseason program, and McCarthy will discuss the changes with him once the program is in full swing.

"He's such a competitor; he competes at everything. He'll compete at the new information," McCarthy said of Rodgers. "He needs to be challenged. He wants to be challenged. You have to continue to find different ways to challenge him. And that's part of his greatness, and that's something that's a focal point of every conversation that we have.

"Aaron is obviously a really good marker here. Every year when he would come back in April, we'd go through [changes]. On a yearly basis it would be 45, 55 items or topics. We'd say, ‘OK, here's the changes that we've made from last year as we're going forward trying to evolve.' So that would be the norm in his tenure and career. It will be significantly higher this year because of the approach that we've taken."

But not absolute. It's likely that Rodgers will encounter other changes the coaches have made that he's not a huge fan of, and McCarthy presumably will hear him out on his concerns. McCarthy himself even objected to a few ideas about renaming certain plays that he calls frequently in his game plans.

"We're in there changing formation names, and I'm like, ‘OK, now wait a minute.' Because you have to make sure you take advantage of the investment that we have in Aaron in that offense. And, frankly, in me too," McCarthy said. "I mean, how the hell am I going to call a play?

"Like I said, nothing was protected. We opened everything up, everything was up for discussion. ... But at the end of the day, there's been a couple [where] I'm like, 'I'm just not doing that. I just can't do it.' But it's healthy. If it helps the process [be] better and cleaner, that's kind of the reason why we did it.

"These will be good changes for [Rodgers]. It'll probably be a little frustrating for him at first because the volume's higher than it's been, but he's always up for a challenge."

Editor's note: Jason Wilde covers the Green Bay Packers for ESPN Wisconsin and is the co-host of Wilde & Tausch with former Packers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher.