Resurgent Jason Heyward delivers key blow against Josh Hader, Brewers

Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE — A year ago — check that, even just a few weeks ago — it was a matchup that would have had Chicago Cubs fans turning off their television sets: dynamic Milwaukee Brewers lefty reliever Josh Hader facing left-handed-hitting Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward.

This is the same Heyward who has been the subject of social media rants and sports radio tirades for the better part of his almost two-and-a-half seasons with the Cubs. But up stepped Heyward, fresh off an improbable, ninth-inning, walk-off grand slam — off another lefty — just a few days ago in a win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

But that was Adam Morgan, and this was Hader, one of the toughest relievers in baseball. The Brewers were leading 2-1 in the eighth inning, but the Cubs had the tying run at second base.

First place was on the line.

Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the game, Hader had struck out 70 batters in 35 innings, including a whopping 23 lefties in 35 at-bats. Lefties were hitting .057 off him, while Heyward was hitting .158 off lefty pitchers. How could anything positive happen for the Cubs?

“Just know the guy has good stuff, and he’s not going to give you a lot to hit in the zone, so if something is there, keep it simple,” Heyward said Monday after the Cubs’ 7-2 win in 11 innings. “Take what he gives you. Hard single to right.”

Heyward turned on a 95 mph fastball and drove it into right field at an exit velocity of 107 mph, the second-hardest hit ball off Hader this season, according to Statcast. Ben Zobrist came around to score.

For two seasons, that was a pitch Heyward never would have hit hard, but times are changing for him. One big hit might be a fluke, but several in a week could have a lot more meaning.

“His setup is entirely different,” manager Joe Maddon said. “And with that, he’s making a better pass at the baseball. He’s just set better. You can see how the ball is coming off the bat. It’s kind of snapping. There is no push in his swing. It’s all snap right now. That’s the difference.”

In layman’s terms, Heyward is (finally) using less arms and more hands. The Cubs have been waiting for this day. For good measure, he doubled home two more runs — again off a lefty — in a five-run 11th inning, helping the Cubs vault over the Brewers and into first place in the NL Central.

“Our guys are like loose cannons in the dugout,” Maddon said. “There are no tight butts. It’s kind of interesting to listen to the conversation, even in a tight game. They’re in the present tense, and that’s all I can ask for.”

The Brewers are 1-8 this season against their division rivals, and on Monday they lost a game in which Hader pitched for the first time this season (21-1). Heyward beating Hader was as unlikely an outcome as any you’ll see — or at least that was the case with the old Heyward. The new, handsy one is a different hitter.

“Timing is good, but when you use your hands, you don’t get body involved, and [I] can adjust mid at-bat and throw my hands at the baseball,” he said. “Trying to use my hands. After that, just able to focus on who you’re facing on the mound.”

His teammates know what Heyward has been through and can appreciate the way he keeps working in the face of adversity. It doesn’t matter if it lasts. It’s happening now, and it’s helping the Cubs win.

“He’s putting good swings on the ball,” Anthony Rizzo said. “He comes to the ballpark like a professional every day. When you see him get results like that, it’s fun.”

And it’s fun for Maddon and the Cubs when they get a total team effort in a victory. From little known reliever Randy Rosario (0.71 ERA) keeping the Cubs in the game to 37-year-old Zobrist providing a spark off the bench, the Cubs proved once again that their talent runs deep.

Meanwhile, after Hader was beaten by Heyward and Milwaukee suffered its eighth loss in nine games against the Cubs, the Brewers must be wondering what else can go wrong.

The teams have played playoff atmosphere baseball in the early portion of the season, with the Cubs coming out on top over and over again, this time led by the unlikeliest of offensive heroes.

“Monday night game, division teams, it’s a lot of fun,” Heyward said. “It’s electric. These teams play baseball the right way.”

“It feels good,” Rizzo added. “It’s fun playing here. The fans are into it. They’re engaged. These are tough games. Which way is the ball going to fall? This year, fortunately, they’ve fallen our way.”

OTAs show Ty Montgomery remains part of Packers’ plans

By Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Mike McCarthy would love to see what Ty Montgomery can do if he’s healthy.

The Green Bay Packers coach still believes the receiver-turned-running back could be a matchup nightmare for defenses.

That’s why even though Montgomery has yet to prove he can avoid the injury bug, he appears to be set for another significant role in the offense. That much became evident during three weeks of OTA practices, in which Montgomery didn’t appear to lose any ground to emerging running backs Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.

“We have to take advantage of Ty’s skills, and there’s no question about that,” McCarthy said. “The offense is suited for that.”

Montgomery opened last season as the Packers’ starter but broken ribs and a wrist injury ruined his first season as a full-time running back. The success he had during his midseason position switch in 2016, when he averaged 5.9 yards on 77 carries, never returned. He gave way to Williams and Jones, two of the three running backs the Packers drafted last year.

Williams showed workhorse ability, leading the team in both carries (153) and rushing yards (556). He tied Jones for the team lead in rushing touchdowns (four), although Jones played with more explosiveness and averaged 5.5 yards per rush. Both, however, battled knee injuries as rookies.

Neither has the versatility of Montgomery, whom McCarthy regularly describes as “multi-positional.”

“As far as the running backs, all those guys can play,” McCarthy said. “Ty’s had some incredible periods of play for us and just really what we’ve talked about since the day the season ended: No one has really gone the distance, so that’s why we’re a running back-by-committee approach, and we like all those guys. But yeah, definitely, Ty can play from the backfield and still has the ability to flex him out and get the matchups we’re looking for. We have plenty of that in the offense.”

The running back situation was one of several questions leading into the OTAs. Here are some answers to the others as the final part of the offseason program, this week’s three-day minicamp, approaches:

Kizer vs. Hundley: DeShone Kizer still has a ways to go to challenge Brett Hundley for the backup quarterback job.

However, a couple of things stood out about Kizer: He strikes an imposing figure at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, but it’s also apparent that he’s still working through some of the accuracy issues that hampered him as the Browns’ rookie starter last year.

One sign of progress came last week when he threw a perfectly placed fade to tight end Marcedes Lewis for a touchdown in a red zone period.

“He’s obviously a big body, throws the ball well,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “He’s just trying to get accustomed to our language and some of the fundamentals we teach here, but he’s picking it up great. He’s fun to have in the meetings.”

McCray and a question mark: One-half of the right side of the offensive line issue appears to be answered: Justin McCray is a virtual lock to start at right guard.

The second-year pro played all over the line last year but now has the chance to settle in at one position, and it has been a major benefit.

“The kid just keeps impressing you,” offensive line coach James Campen said. “The guy came back; he’s lived here and changed his diet. He’s been totally engaged with what coach [Mark] Lovat and the strength staff have done in that room. … The things he has done and displayed this offseason speaks volumes to where he wants to go. I think you just saw the tip of what Justin will be. The more reps and the more time he can be devoted to this profession and this just be a one-year cycle of it, I think he’s going to be a much better player.”

Ty Montgomery opened last year as the Packers’ starter but broken ribs and a wrist injury derailed his season. Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK

Right tackle, however, appears far from settled. At the last open OTA practice, Adam Pankey manned that spot with the first team. Pankey, an undrafted free agent in 2017, did not play a single snap on offense last season as a rookie. Bryan Bulaga won’t be ready for training camp — or possibly the regular season — because of his ACL recovery. Jason Spriggs is still dealing with a knee injury, and Kyle Murphy (foot) hasn’t been fully cleared. That’s why the Packers signed veteran journeyman Byron Bell last month.

Alexander, Jackson shine: The real test will come with the pads on in camp, but the Packers’ top two draft picks already have shown a penchant for finding the football.

Jaire Alexander picked off Rodgers during an open OTA, and Josh Jackson had a big pass breakup during a closed session.

“They’re talking a lot, so I’m going to have to dice them up once we get down to it,” Rodgers joked. “No, I like to see the confidence, I really do. That’s how you want your corners — to play with that swagger, that confidence. [Alexander’s] a little louder than [Jackson] is, but it’s fun to look on the other side of the ball and see those guys making plays. Now, pads are a great equalizer, so you never want to make too big of a judgment.”

Pettine’s D: One thing about new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s practices: they’re not quiet.

Pettine isn’t shy to point out mistakes, but that’s nothing compared to new linebackers coach/run game coordinator Patrick Graham. The former Giants and Patriots assistant can be heard from just about anywhere on the practice field.

“There’s a little bit of yelling at practice,” Rodgers said. The linebacker coach does a lot of yelling, actually. So that’s new, different. It’s energy, you know. It’s yelling energy, but it’s good. Change can be really good for … Anytime you’re in a situation where you’ve had the same type of things going on for a number of years, it’s nice to change it up in some positions.”

It’s all part of Pettine’s plan to hold his players accountable, something that was lacking at times under former defensive coordinator Dom Capers, according to some players.

Cubs, Brewers square off again with first place at stake

By Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE — An early June showdown awaits the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers this week, as they’ll renew their budding rivalry over the next three days with first place on the line. Just like a year ago at this time, the Brewers have dictated the standings from atop the NL Central. But unlike last season, the two-time defending division champions are making their move in early June instead of late July.

Trailing by just a half-game entering Monday night’s contest, the Cubs are playing their best baseball of the season, despite losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. It was just their fourth loss in 16 games. The Brewers also lost on Sunday, marking their fifth defeat in eight June games, which has allowed the Cubs to make up some ground while setting up the early summer face-to-face at Miller Park.

“You can’t contrive it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the rivalry. “People that attempt to contrive a rivalry, I’ve always gotten a kick out of it. It’s an organic thing. You cannot force rivalry.”

Bad blood can raise tensions between division opponents, but if the teams are fighting to stay out of the cellar, does it really matter? You need more. These teams — solid in many facets of the game — have it.

“You have to have another good team,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said earlier this season. “We gave them a run [last season]. It wasn’t good enough.”

Normally, a matchup between teams in first and second place would mean a hostile environment for the visitors, but with the Brewers’ home stadium dubbed Wrigley North, it’s essentially a neutral field. For example, outfielder Ryan Braun is used to getting booed on the road, but in his own park? It happens all the time when the Cubs come to town.

The first time the teams met in Milwaukee this season didn’t exactly bring out the best in each fan base, as early April baseball rarely does. Only one game drew more than 40,000 fans, and one drew fewer than 30,000. The Cubs took three of four. Later in the month — with a little more interest — the Cubs swept the Brewers in a four-game series at Wrigley Field.

That brings us to the most obvious storyline heading into the series: The Cubs have already taken seven of eight from the Brewers. Is that a meaningless coincidence or a meaningful trend? Perhaps we’ll get some answers this week, but Milwaukee has one advantage. Any series in which Jon Lester does not pitch is a good one for the Cubs’ opposition, as his ERA (2.22) ranks third in the NL. In fact, the Brewers will miss both Lester and usually reliable righty Kyle Hendricks. But Jose Quintana boasts a 0.63 ERA against Milwaukee in six career starts, and he’ll face Junior Guerra on Monday in a juicy battle of middleweights. Eric Thames is expected to return from the disabled list, according to the Brewers’ website, which will give Milwaukee its own boost heading into the series.

The Cubs won seven of eight against the Brewers in April, but Milwaukee enters this week with a half-game lead in the NL Central. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Then there’s Josh Hader, the most dynamic reliever in the league. He didn’t pitch Sunday, meaning he should be fresh for the Cubs. There will be a nice cat-and-mouse game between Maddon and Counsell, as both managers have top-ranked relievers to deploy this week, but none is better than Hader, with his ability to get strikeouts (70 in 35.1 innings). Maddon surely will alternate righty and lefty bats in his lineup, as he usually does, to ensure that Hader won’t face several lefties in a row — not that it matters much. Lefties are hitting .057 off Hader, with righties hitting just .103. The notion of a late-game matchup between Hader and Anthony Rizzo sounds destined to happen unless the game is a blowout.

Perhaps that’s where the season series between the teams is misleading. Other than Game 1 on April 5 — an 8-0 win by the Cubs — the meetings have mostly been tight affairs. The Brewers simply didn’t hit when the Cubs swept them at Wrigley, but they’ve more than made up for it since. Milwaukee trails the Los Angeles Dodgers by one home run for the top spot in the NL, while the Cubs rank 10th in that category. However, the Cubs have the best OPS in the league, while Milwaukee is outside the top five. It’s hard to find an edge in the pitching matchup considering Lester isn’t throwing in the series, though both teams have plenty of good arms besides the ones already mentioned.

No matter what happens this week, it’s hard to see the Brewers beating the Cubs for the division title without faring better head-to-head. They survived a 1-7 start against their rivals 90 miles to the south, but could they survive another similar stretch? Is this the week the Cubs blow by Milwaukee, then carry on to take down the St. Louis Cardinals, establishing themselves once again as the team to beat? Or is this division destined for important games in September, like it had last year?

No longer is it early. No longer are managers and fans learning what their teams are all about. Both the Cubs and Brewers are good. Now we might start to find out who is better. If these three games aren’t enough, then perhaps the softball contest between the wives/girlfriends of each team, played at noon Tuesday outside Miller Park, will tell us something. That one is being played for charity. The ones at night and Wednesday afternoon will have no such connotation.

Will this be moving week in the NL Central? For Cubs fans, it’s six days of rivalry games to kick-start the summer. For Brewers fans, it’s a chance to test the first-place standing and find out if that 1-7 mark against Chicago is a fluke.

“They’re a good team,” Rizzo said the last time the teams met. “They’re hungry. You have two teams with high aspirations.”

And still do.

Brewers get Brad Miller from Rays for Ji-Man Choi

Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — The Brewers have acquired infielder Brad Miller and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for first baseman/outfielder Ji-Man Choi.

The NL Central-leading Brewers made the deal Sunday and assigned Miller to Triple-A Colorado Springs. He was cut by Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Cliff McBride/Getty Images

The 28-year-old Miller was hitting .256 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 48 games for the Rays. Mostly a shortstop, he has started at every position in the majors except catcher and pitcher.

Miller hit 30 home runs for the Rays in 2016 but dipped to just nine last year.

The 27-year-old Choi hit .233 with two homers and five RBIs in 12 games for Milwaukee.

The Brewers sent Choi to Triple-A Colorado Springs earlier Sunday, one day after he hit a go-ahead, pinch-hit grand slam in the Brewers’ 12-3 win over the Phillies.

Commission calls for audit in arrest of Bucks’ Sterling Brown

Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission is calling for an audit of the stun gun arrest of Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown.

The commission wrote to Chief Alfonso Morales asking for the audit and all body-camera video of the arrest. Commissioners want the findings to be turned over to them and the Milwaukee Common Council.

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Police officers confronted Brown in January after he had parked illegally in a drugstore parking lot. Police video of the arrest shows officers swarming Brown and taking him down when he didn’t immediately take his hands out of his pockets as ordered.

Three officers involved in the arrest have been disciplined, with suspensions ranging from two to 15 days.

Brown’s attorney Mark Thomsen says he has delayed plans to file a federal lawsuit Friday.

The ‘real Kevin King’ should finally appear in training camp

Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The hooting and hollering from the other end of the locker room was so loud that it interrupted Aaron Rodgers’ session with reporters. Twice, Rodgers paused and looked to his right, where a group of Green Bay Packers defensive backs were whooping it up.

Kevin King was not among them.

King sat quietly at his locker while a group that included the Packers’ top two 2018 draft picks — Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson — went about their locker room fun.

Jim Matthews/Green Bay Press Gazette via USA TODAY Sports

The same can be said for what’s happened on the field this spring, where the addition of Alexander and Jackson to the cornerback position added some much-needed juice. Meanwhile, King, the Packers’ top draft pick in 2017, has been limited only to individual drills to let his surgically repaired left shoulder heal.

More than a year after the Packers picked him at No. 33 overall, they still haven’t seen King at his best. Assistant coach Joe Whitt, who tutored the cornerbacks last season before his promotion to defensive passing game coordinator, said after King’s season ended prematurely because of the injury that “you haven’t really seen the real Kevin King yet.”

That statement holds true — for now — but Whitt believes that will change soon.

“Hopefully in training camp,” Whitt said this offseason. “Hopefully he’ll be full-go in training camp. He’s been really attentive; he’s worked his butt off in the workroom. The guys in the workroom are just raving about the way his work ethic hasn’t necessarily changed, but from Year 1 to 2 you grow up, and he’s matured that way.

“He’s been in [cornerback] Tramon Williams’ back pocket the whole time learning, not just necessarily the defense but how to be a pro and how to be in the league 13 years. So he’s doing everything. He’s been in my back pocket, ‘Hey, Joe, what’s the defense here?’ Because he hasn’t been on the field, but he wants to know what every call is. He wants to communicate with myself and [cornerbacks coach] Jason [Simmons] and make sure that he understands the checks on the side so he can get mental reps each time. But you’ll see the real Kevin King come training camp.”

The 6-foot-3 King gave the Packers something they didn’t have — a lanky, long-armed cornerback suited to cover the NFL’s sky-scraping receivers. Almost immediately, however, a shoulder injury that hampered him in college resurfaced. He didn’t make it through the first week of training camp without issue. He tried to play through it for as long as he could, appearing in nine games while wearing a restrictive harness before the Packers shut him down. Despite the injury, he showed he was a willing tackler, and although he didn’t record an interception, he broke up eight passes before he underwent surgery in December to repair the torn labrum.

“I feel good,” King said. “I went to the best surgeon in the world, Dr. [James] Andrews. He got me right, so I feel good.”

Still, the Packers haven’t let King participate in 11-on-11 periods during OTA practices and probably won’t during next week’s minicamp, either. That leaves new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine still somewhat unsure of what he has in the second-year cornerback.

“It’s hard to tell at this point because I know a lot of the film from last year, that he was playing essentially with one arm,” Pettine said. “Just in talking to Joe and Jason, they think the world of him and think the ceiling is real high there. Just looking at him, it surprised me; I didn’t realize how tall he is until I met him in person. Just with receivers getting bigger and bigger — just look at the guys we’ve got to cover in practice — it will be nice to have a corner with that size and length.”

Given how limited King was last season, it seemed curious that one NFL executive already has written off King in comments to ESPN’s Mike Sando for an Insider story evaluating each team’s offseason moves. Said the personnel evaluator: “Green Bay has to take corners because they missed on [Damarious] Randall, they missed on [Quinten] Rollins, they probably missed on the Washington kid last year [Kevin King].”

The Packers brought back Davon House, who started 12 games last season, and re-signed Williams after three years away from Green Bay. Even with the addition of Alexander and Jackson, there’s a good chance King will be one of the two starters on the outside when the season opens. So far, Alexander has looked like a capable No. 3 corner in the slot.

“I think it’s going to be a big jump for him,” House said of King. “I’m excited to see what he looks like healthy because last year he was banged up the whole year, and I thought last year he wasn’t bad at all for a rookie. So I’m excited to see what he brings this year.”

Where’s Ha Ha? Clinton-Dix’s OTA absence raises questions

Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. — When Ha Ha Clinton-Dix showed up for the start of the offseason program on April 17, there was no indication that his attendance — voluntary as it is — would be incomplete.

The former Pro Bowl safety, who like most players on the Green Bay Packers’ defense was coming off a disappointing season, sounded all-in with new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

As such, it came as something of a surprise when the offseason program turned to Phase 3 and Clinton-Dix was nowhere to be found. The first day of public and media access last month brought no questions about it. In the two days of open practices that followed in the ensuing weeks, more questions — but few answers — have emerged.

David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

Finally on Monday, the start of the final week of OTAs, Packers coach Mike McCarthy offered this when asked about Clinton-Dix’s absence:

“There’s really no need to get into attendance,” McCarthy said. “We’re having a really good offseason. Ha Ha, just like a number of veterans, when we start the offseason program, we go through everybody’s individual schedule. Things do come up, so he’s had a personal situation that he’s attended to, so I have no concerns.”

Text messages to Clinton-Dix and messages left for his agent, Pat Dye Jr., have not been returned.

Next week could be telling as it relates to Clinton-Dix’s attendance. That’s when the Packers hold their only mandatory event of the offseason: the three-day minicamp that runs June 12-14. Even if McCarthy excuses some veterans, as he has in recent years, Clinton-Dix almost certainly won’t meet the requirements. In the past, McCarthy has let players with five years of NFL experience skip the camp. Clinton-Dix has four.

The former first-round pick is signed through the end of this season and would play this year under the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, at a salary of $5.957 million.

Still, Clinton-Dix’s absence could be, at least in part, contract-driven. He switched agents, moving to Dye, within the past year, presumably to help with a new deal once his rookie contract runs out. He no doubt would like a contract extension commensurate with those of the top safeties in the league. The sum of his rookie contract, including the option year, puts him 32nd among safeties in average salary per year, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Eric Berry of the Chiefs is the NFL’s highest-paid safety, at $13 million per season. Clinton-Dix is not among the players who have workout bonuses in their contracts, so he isn’t losing any money.

“I’m excited about the scheme and things that are going on inside of that [play]book,” Clinton-Dix said in April “It’s all smiles from me. I’m excited about it. I’m excited to work. I’m excited to be here.”

Clinton-Dix could be one of the most important players in Pettine’s plans, especially considering that the Packers let veteran safety Morgan Burnett leave in free agency to sign with the Steelers.

Clinton-Dix’s 2017 performance did not come close to the production he had in 2016, when he made his first Pro Bowl. But there were so many issues across the defense — all of which led to Dom Capers’ firing after nine seasons — that Clinton-Dix said he spent more time trying to prevent big plays than he did trying to make them.

“Last year, we had to do what was best for the team,” Clinton-Dix said in April. “I wasn’t involved in a lot, but like I said, last year was last year. I didn’t meet the standards I set for myself personally. If you ask a guy from a different team, three picks and 80 tackles with not being involved in the scheme, I think they would think they had a great year. But with a guy like me with the high expectations I set for myself, I expect more, and I expect more from myself this year. I have to work on a lot of things to get better at, and I’m excited about it.”

One current Packers player who has been in contact with Clinton-Dix expressed no concerns about his teammate’s absence. The teammate told ESPN that Clinton-Dix has been working on football and has been in regular contact with the team even though he hasn’t been at OTAs.

When asked if he is concerned about Clinton-Dix’s absence, defensive passing-game coordinator Joe Whitt said: “Not at all. It’s voluntary. So the guys that are here are the guys that we’re worried about.”

Video: Police discuss backlash of arresting Sterling Brown

MILWAUKEE — Newly released police video of the stun gun arrest of Bucks guard Sterling Brown show one officer stepping on Brown’s ankle while he was handcuffed on the ground and others discussing the potential backlash of taking down a black professional basketball player.

The body camera and squad car videos, obtained by WISN-TV and posted online Sunday, show the moments after Milwaukee police officers swarmed Brown in January when he didn’t immediately take his hands out of his pockets as ordered. Brown had been standing and talking with a group of officers as he waited for a citation for illegally parking on a handicap spot outside a Walgreens.

Brown wasn’t charged with anything and three officers involved in the arrest were disciplined, with suspensions ranging from two to 15 days. Eight others will undergo remedial training in professional communications. Brown has said he plans to sue the department.

In one of the videos, Brown is on the ground and handcuffed when an officer puts one of his boots on Brown’s ankle, holding it there and at one point pressing down. Brown doesn’t mention being in any discomfort but he questions the officer about why he’s stepping on him.

“C’mon man, you’re stepping on my ankle for what?” Brown said. In response, the officer said he was trying to prevent Brown from kicking anyone.

Other videos obtained by WISN-TV show an officer talking with two others who are seated in a squad car as they explained they were trying to protect themselves during the arrest. They also talk about how they could be perceived as racist for arresting a black Bucks player, with one saying if anything goes wrong, it “is going to be, `Ooh, the Milwaukee Police Department is all racist, blah, blah, blah.”

Another video shows an officer in his squad car, calling to let a supervisor know he’ll need to be on overtime before singing, “Money, money, money, money, money …”

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales has apologized to Brown and on May 23 released body camera footage of the officer who initially contacted the basketball player outside the store.

The incident happened a month before Morales was appointed chief, following the retirement of Edward Flynn. Since becoming chief, Morales has pledged to improve the police department’s relationship with minorities and to be more transparent with cases of officer misconduct.

It’s unclear why the new videos were not released along with the first body camera footage. Sgt. Sheronda Grant, a police spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to that question Monday from The Associated Press.

Mike McCarthy OK with softball game despite Clay Matthews’ injury

By Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Mike McCarthy isn’t going to put the kibosh on the annual Green Bay Packers charity softball game, but he might like Clay Matthews to put in some extra skill work if he’s going to pitch again.

Matthews took a line drive off his face during Saturday’s game and suffered a broken nose that will require surgery.

“I think he needs to work on his off-hand, mitt side, on the release of the ball,” McCarthy joked on Monday. “So that’s what the tape showed me. It’s a charity [game], but most importantly, we don’t have any long-term concerns. We’re talking about scheduling surgery probably midweek. So it’s unfortunate but it’s for a great cause, I’m just glad he’s OK.”


McCarthy said he has no issues with his players continuing the long-standing charity event that has been held for more than two decades at the home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a minor league affiliate of the Brewers near Appleton.

“I am [OK with the game],” McCarthy said. “I think it’s great on a number of fronts. Anytime your players give back, charity involved in the community, that’s a great day for the fans, I mean they sell it out every year. … Yeah, I’m not going to overreact to this.”

Matthews and receiver Davante Adams were the co-hosts of the game this year. In the past, it has been hosted by Brett Favre, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson.

Adams pitched behind a protective screen following the injury to Matthews, who did not use the device when he pitched to start the game.

Matthews has been held out of OTAs because he underwent offseason knee surgery, so he would not have been on the field Monday, when the Packers held their final open OTA practice. They have their mandatory minicamp next week, but McCarthy has excused veterans with at least five years of service from that camp in recent years.

Mike Pettine’s first impression on Packers could be long-lasting

By Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. — All that matters is what the Green Bay Packers’ defense looks like on Sept. 9, when the regular season opens against the Chicago Bears, and every Sunday (or the occasional Monday, Thursday and Saturday depending on the schedule) after that.

But if things are indeed different this year — and the defense isn’t the liability it has been in so many years since the last Super Bowl season — then April 17 might be viewed as the turning point. That’s when Mike Pettine addressed his players for the first time as Packers defensive coordinator and made the kind of first impression that lingers.

Here they are, almost seven weeks later and nearly five months after Pettine was hired, and the Packers are still talking about that team meeting that started the offseason workouts.

“I really like Mike’s first meeting,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last week. “Like anything in this business, you have one opportunity to make a first impression.”

It was in that meeting, a session Pettine said lasted “a long time,” where the 51-year-old coach introduced his KILL philosophy — the “keep it likable and learnable” approach he developed with Rex Ryan with the Ravens and then the Jets. It may be a catchy acronym, but it sounds like just what the Packers needed after all the confusion that ruined their defense toward the end of Dom Capers’ tenure as coordinator.

AP Photo/Mike Roemer

While much of the base philosophies remain intact from Capers to Pettine — reinforced by the fact that five of Pettine’s current defensive assistants were on the staff last season — this defense could be a streamlined approach to the same principles, especially in the oft-troubled area of communication.

New Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine made a memorable first impression during his initial meeting with players in April. AP Photo/Mike Roemer
“That’s the first thing we talk about during every film session is communication,” veteran cornerback Davon House said after Thursday’s open OTA practice.

“I love him,” House added. “Love the energy he brings. You can feel the juice in the meetings room and on the field. Guys flying around. But it’s just the beginning. We’re still learning the defense, the ins and outs of it. But so far it’s great. Not good, but great as you saw today out there on the practice field.”

What House was referring to were the pair of interceptions — one by first-round pick Jaire Alexander and another by practice-squad linebacker Ahmad Thomas — of Aaron Rodgers. Both were met with exuberance from the defensive sideline that stood out even during a meaningless late-May practice.

“I think just a different personality now,” said cornerback Tramon Williams, who played for Pettine during one of his two seasons as the Browns’ head coach. “Obviously you get a good defense and a good system that comes with it, but Mike has a great personality to the point where he’s going to let you be a player, but he’s going to speak up at the same time when players are not doing what they’re supposed to do. So you have that balance between what he brings, and guys love it.

“You’ve got a guy like, say, [defensive tackle] Mike Daniels and you’ve got a coach comes in and tells him he’s going to let you do what you do, and that’s what players love to hear. He’s a combination of a guy who understands that players play the game but at the same time, he’s going keep a leash on you.”

It was Williams who suggested during a recent appearance on ESPN Milwaukee radio that the NFL had caught up to Capers’ system. Williams was among those who flourished under Capers and played a key role in the run to Super Bowl XLV, but he also was around long enough to see part of the decline. Williams’ last season in Green Bay was 2014; his last play was the touchdown he allowed against the Seahawks in overtime of the NFC title game that season.

Williams re-signed this offseason after three years away in part because of the need for another veteran cornerback and because he has experience in Pettine’s system.

“The first couple of years under Dom, we were ahead of the game with it, especially with the players that we had in here,” Williams said. “Obviously when you win the Super Bowl, the first thing teams do is turn on the tape to see why these guys are so good. And they start breaking down that film and people start catching up with it, and you have to make adjustments.

“It’s funny because Pettine’s system is not that far off from Dom’s. The system that I was in Arizona [last season] wasn’t that far off from Dom, but they had a lot more adjustments to it because you couldn’t read what we were doing all the time. From my experience over the last couple of years away, there’s adjustments to this defense and guys are making that.”

This is Pettine’s first job in the NFL since he was fired as the Browns’ coach following the 2015 season. He spent his two seasons away immersed in a deep study of the NFL in order to refine and redefine his system. Part of that included a reduction of volume. Where he might have taken 50 different playcalls into a game before, he thinks the number will be closer to 25 now — another point that was stressed in that first team meeting.

“The biggest thing I wanted them to understand was that it’s really important for us to know that it’s mindset over scheme,” Pettine said. “I know I talked about it then, too, that the playbook, we want to make sure we have a cutting-edge playbook and we do some things that we gear toward the opponent and you have some graduate-level stuff but, at the same time, it shouldn’t matter. It’s more important how we play and not what we play.

“I told them we can line up in one defense but as long as we play with great passion, great technique that we should be able to stop people if the call sheet’s very limited. I think that we’ve got the buy-in from that. That comes with energy, with focus. The passion piece is big for us as well. It’s a kids’ game. Sometimes you lose sight of that and guys take it a little bit too seriously and get caught up in some things. ‘This is a game, man. Let’s go out and have fun.'”