Pay cuts are a sensitive subject. Every off-season proud veterans are asked to take less money or promptly shown the door. Such a conversation is so often perceived as a slap in the face insulting. Yet A.J. Hawk never felt that way when the Green Bay Packers approached him. "I think it's more of an ego thing than anything that guys can't get over" the inside linebacker said at his locker Friday. "They don't want to take a pay cut. They don't want to say they're taking a pay cut. It hurts their ego. "I let that go a long time ago. I wasn't worried about that. I don't care what the outside perception is. If my grandma reads that I'm taking a pay cut and not making as much money I can put a phone call in to her and let her know that 'It's going to be OK. We'll be fine.'" He can kid because as the linebacker said being bullheaded "usually doesn't go too well" for many players. So at a reduced rate Hawk is back in Green Bay. Over the final three years of his contract Hawk will make $10.6 million. The Packers decided to forge ahead with Hawk and Brad Jones at inside linebacker and Hawk never took issue with the pay cut. Instead he'll continue to serve as a durable reliable if not overly dynamic cog in Dom Capers' 3-4 defense. In seven seasons Hawk has missed only two games. He's logged 120 total games with the only hiccup being a calf injury in 2011. This is one reason the Packers decided to keep Hawk. The reason for such durability Hawk notes is the "90%" of work the public his wife his parents don't see he said. Through the years he started getting acupuncture. He learned to embrace massages something extra he shunned in the past. And long hours of tossing plates around in the weight room were replaced with more up-tempo workouts to simulate an actual game. Add it all up and Hawk believes he's peaking in Year No.8. "I think now at 29 I feel better than I did at 20 in college — physically and mentally" Hawk said. "People may think I'm getting old. I think I'm starting to peak a little bit. "I used to sit in the weight room and just do stupid stuff for three four hours at a time just killing myself and killing my body. It was good. I think it built up a great foundation but now I'm just in and out." At inside linebacker the Packers' decision was made in part to health to durability. Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and D.J. Smith (knee) were released after suffering season-ending injuries. Hawk who has never suffered a major injury in the pros returned after his 120 tackles and three sacks last season. Right away in contract talks the Packers made it clear they wanted him to remain a part of their defense. The two sides ironed out details. And now Hawk is back. "I'm sure guys will lie to you and tell you they physically feel great when they don't but I honestly do" Hawk said. "I practice every day. My legs feel as good as they have. I've never had any real shoulder knee any issues. I'll try to keep it that way. I'll try to stay around here as long as I can." Good night: The camp's only night practice (not counting the scrimmage Saturday) went well according to McCarthy. He was particularly happy with the way it ended. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers led a 2-minute drill for a touchdown finishing the drive with a rocket ball to tight end Jermichael Finley down the middle. Finley caught the ball over safeties Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings. "Two-minute drive was very clean for the offense" he said. "Aaron was very sharp. He was clean on every single play. He does a phenomenal job with the cadence and had a big play there. The ball to Jermichael that was very well done." McCarthy said the scrimmage would follow a similar format as in the past with a certain part of the night devoted to live tackling. He did not say how many tackling periods there would be but typically there are several drives with the No.1 offense going against the No.2 defense the No.2 offense going against the No.1 defense and the No.3s going against each other.
Packers' A.J. Hawk is just fine with lower pay
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Aug 3