Teams usually go in one of two directions after a loss as devastating as what happened to the Packers in January's NFC Championship Game: You learn from it and get better or you crumble and fade away.
Aaron Rodgers is the single-biggest reason why the Packers are unlikely to stumble into that depressing second group. The reigning MVP believes this Packers team has the right mix to get somewhere Rodgers hasn't been in five years ... the Super Bowl.
"I think the talent is definitely there," Rodgers told ESPN's Rob Demovsky. "But just like last year, you've got to see how the team comes together."
Give Packers management credit. They didn't overreact after the shocking collapse at CenturyLink Field. Instead, they locked up homegrown star Randall Cobb and kept stability on the line by re-signing Bryan Bulaga. Next, they invested three of their first four draft picks on defense. All prudent moves.
Rodgers says the talent is there, and we'll take it a step further: This team is loaded and has no reason not to be back in the NFC title game next January. Whether they can get over the hump is another matter.
Here's what else we learned during Wednesday's OTAs and minicamps:
- Adrian Peterson will have played in one game in 19 months by the time the Vikings kick off the regular season, but coach Mike Zimmer is leaning on holding his prized running back out of all preseason action.
- NFL Media's Albert Breer reports that PatriotsSuper Bowl hero Malcolm Butler has been held out of practice because he showed up late to the first day of OTAs. This caught the interest of the NFL Players Association, which is looking into whether the Patriots had the right to discipline Butler. Stay tuned.
- Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi is worried that Joique Bell's recovery from surgery this offseason could keep him from being in the proper physical condition when training camp begins. The running back hasn't participated in any practices during OTAs while he rehabs knee and Achilles procedures.
- NFL Media's Alex Flanagan spent the week at Cardinals minicamp. One of her big takeaways from the visit? Carson Palmerlooks impressive as he makes his way back from knee surgery. Flanagan also noted it's "hard not to notice" the growing connection between Palmer and second-year wideout John Brown.
- Peyton Manning loves football. A lot. Now in his 18th season, the Broncos quarterback said that learning a new offense in Denver has "stimulated" his focus. Those that count out the Sheriff should be prepared to look foolish.
- Rex Ryan sometimes sounds too optimistic about his tepid Bills quarterback group, but he was honest on Wednesday while using a nicely timed NBA parallel. "It's safe to say we won't have LeBron at quarterback."
- Kyle Long went to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons as a guard. He practiced at right tackle on Wednesday. Could a position switch be in the cards for a Bears team looking for improved protection?
- You want a hint why Muhammad Wilkerson hasn't gotten paid by the Jets yet? He has people in his ear telling him he should be making Ndamukong Suh money. Not happening.
- Geno Atkins wasn't a gameplan-wrecking beast for the Bengals last season as he worked his way back from knee surgery. That could soon change. Defensive line coach Jay Hayes said Atkins looks "scary" this spring.
- The Raiders need some things to click to return to the realm of the living this season. Latavius Murray turning into a Pro Bowl-level running back would certainly help. One team source told ESPN Murray could have "a huge year."
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