Green Bay Packer Safety Morgan Burnett Developing Quickly: Thank You Atari Bigby All Green Bay Packers All the Time

As Green Bay Packers third round draft pick Morgan Burnett continues to impress Packers coach Mike Mccarthy, surely he is grinning inside and saying to himself, thank you Atari Bigby.

For a player that came on as an undrafted free agent, had one good year, and then missed 12 games the past two years, Atari Bigby seems surprisingly secure in not signing the Packers’ RFA tender offer. He was even willing to lose $54,000, as the Packers have the right to re-work the offer to 110% of his 2009 salary and surely will.

While I have no problem with players trying to get as much  money as they can, it seems fairly obvious to everyone except Bigby and his agent Drew Rosenhaus that they have no leverage to seek a long-term deal. But I’m not here to write about that, as the topic has been covered pretty concisely elsewhere. (One good treatise on the subject can be found here: The Game of Atari )

But while Atari stays away from the Packers’ OTAs, Morgan Burnett is getting all the first team reps and his star continues to rise, especially in the eyes of Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. McCarthy has made it a point to compliment Burnett in every press conference he’s held since the Packers started their Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

Here are McCarthy’s comments on Burnett:

05/19/10 – He’s done a very good job, number one, in the meetings, communicating. Dom Capers, the way he runs the defense and the method of communication as far as how our meetings are organized, that’s the first step, and the ability to carry it over to the playing field. We’ve seen him in the rookie orientation and now two practices, so I think he’s off to a good start there. But there’s no question you like the size and the athletic ability that he possesses, and I think that’s pretty clear-cut to everybody just watching him move around the last two days

06/02/10 – Been very impressed with Morgan. He’s done a very good job, particularly communicating for a young safety. That’s a very big part of playing the position, the communication, as far as the alignments, the formations and the calls to be made back there. I think he’s off to a good start. I think he’s a very natural football player. He’s done some things on special teams in particular some new techniques that we’re implementing this year. I like what I’ve seen just in the short time he’s been here also on special teams.

06/09/10 – He’s learning, he’s growing. I do like his assertiveness, particularly in his communication skills, and that’s very important at the safety position. Athletically, he’s a young man with a bright future. You can just see the athletic ability, both on special teams and defense. He’s still learning the defense, and he’s doing a good job of that.

6/16/10 – I see Burnett as a very natural, instinctive football player. Things come very easy for him. He’s a good communicator. He’s a very fluid player in space. His athletic ability and the instincts, he picks up coaching very well. That was very evident watching him play the wing position in the punt protection. Just like all of our younger players, the biggest transition from college to professional sport is number one, keeping up with the speed of the game, but really the second part that every NFL player that comes into camp for the first time is to get reps. You’re always fighting for reps, and it’s really helped him.

Now, this is just OTAs, and we’ve all learned our lesson about players who look good in shorts and then shrivel up and die once the pads come on. But four times McCarthy has pointed out Burnett’s communication skills. That’s an aspect that works the same way, whether you’re on the field in shorts or pads or just in the locker room.

For a first year player to gain such praise is rather significant, especially at a position where miscommunication on one play can quickly cost you a touchdown (see Derrick Martin vs. Minnesota).

As McCarthy said, I believe Morgan Burnett is a player with a bright future. I thought so after watching his college game tapes, and I’m willing to predict he will not fall victim to the dreaded “Curse of the OTA Standout.”

It would be a lot to expect Burnett to be a starter in his first season, especially since I don’t expect Bigby to just roll over and concede. At some point, Atari will sign his tender, report to training camp and compete for the starting safety spot. In the meantime, however, we all owe Bigby a  big “thank you”  for helping to speed up Burnett’s development.

Thanks Atari…


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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for


22 thoughts on “Green Bay Packer Safety Morgan Burnett Developing Quickly: Thank You Atari Bigby

  1. Getting down the mental part of the game is obsticle #1 for burnett. I don’t meed to tell you how important it is in our D that the safeties be able to recognize offensive formations, motions, etc. And be able to make the right calls, and also know what they themselves are responsible for. Athletic ability is not a problem, and other than laying the (seemingly less and less). Knockout shot, burnette is most likely a much more gifted athlete than bigby.

    Bigby is not quick. And that is what causes him to be late getting to where he needs to be.

    My only question is if burnett really can play the nickle/dime. CB spot like people say he can. If so, then BOOYAH GRAMMA! We are in good shape 🙂

    1. Booyah Gramma indeed! What a bonus that would be. At Georgia Ttech, he played a “rover” position, so he did a lot of different things and was good at all of them.

  2. I expected TT to take Burnett with the second round pick. And I was doing hand stands when he did trade up to take him.
    I think no matter if he starts or not he will help the team his rookie year.
    Does he have the ability to start year he does, the question is yow fast is he assignment sure.

    Burnett is a superior athlete, he had the best agility testing number of all the Safeties and all the CB’s in the 2010 draft. Only Devin McCourty had a better 3 coen drill time. And that was .17 second quicker.

    For me the big thing is Production, when you watch video of Burnett, you see the ability to time his jumps to break up passes and or make a interception.
    Good tackler, runs well with the ball.

    His abilities and style of play make him a perfect fit for the Dom Capers Defense.
    I think he is going to be a huge addition to the Packers defensive backfield.

    Can’t wait to see him play. And yes a BIG Thankyou to Bigby for all the work Bigby has given the chance for Burnett to have.

  3. I think MM praising Burnett has more to do with Bigby’s “holdout” than with Burnett’s actual play. But he wouldn’t go out there and congratulate him on his comunication skills if they weren’t there.

    As far as starting goes, it’s still Bigby’s job to lose. It’s still not a job competition. But there isn’t the same security there was last year.

    I rated Burnett as my #3 safety, behind Eric Berry and Earl Thomas, together with Nate Allen, and ahead of Taylor Mays. So I was thrilled to have him. I absolutely think he’s the long-term answer, and, together with Nick Collins, will form the best Safety tandem in the league.

    And, to conclude, man, that’s a big head, Al. It’s kind of freaking me out. Almost as much as the TT avatar.

    1. Nothing can be as eerie as the TT avatar. Careful, or I’ll start using it here, too…

      I think the Packers decided safety was a key position they needed to upgrade, and mostly because of dissatisfaction with Bigby. Hence the Burnett pick and the Blackmon move to safety.

      I don’t think in this case MM’s primary motivation is to tweak Bigby…

    2. I agree that the compliments do have something to do with Bigby holding out. Don’t think it’s the only reason, I think Burnett will have success in the NFL, but too much of a coincidence.

  4. As far as starting or not, does it matter? I think dom employed nickle like 40% of the time last year, and sub packages in general like 55%(if I am not mistaken) so even if he does not start, he Is almost garaunteed to see the field like 8-10 times per game.

    1. Good point. Of course, one reason for that was opposing teams knowing the way to go after the Packers was via the passing game.

  5. Although I’m far from being a Bigby fan (and would like to see him replaced), the one thing he does is hit (although he can’t cover a lick). Burnett cannot have possibly showed anyone in Green Bay that he’s a hitter. Safteies have to hit.

    1. He earned that hitter reputation in 2007, with some big hits and forced fumbles. He hasn’t caused a fumble since that season and the big hits have not been there…

      1. Everyone likes the guy that gives the big hit but,myself at this point I would rather have the guy that can communicate and keep the defense in the positions which we apparently weren’t very good at last year.Perhaps alot of that was do to injuries of some but coverage is key and if he can be that guy,we need the big hits less.
        Besides isn’t the guy that usally gets hurt from that hit-OURS?

          1. Amen. Specially considering the strenghts and weaknesses of our team, and the way the game is being played.

            In-the-box safeties are extinct.

  6. In a way it’s almost expected that Atari would become obsolete, just like his namesake.

    1. Not kidding at all. Send an email to my junk email address: mytemp”at” (replace “at” with @ ). I will reply to you from my real email address…



  7. I will hold judgement until they put the Pads on in Training Camp. All too many superstars in OTA’s have turned out to be less than impressive as the season approached.

    Hope he’s everything everyone says he is. Just haven’t seen a record of OTA success that was converted to the Reg. Season.

  8. M TOWN IS A BEAST! We called him that growing up. I played with him in college park for North Clayton Park. My boy Morgan is a big hitter to, so when those pads come on I feel sorry for the running backs!!! He didn’t get the recognition he deserved at tech but who cares it’s on now! Also shout to my boy Eric Berry these two went at it in rival games smh. CREEKSIDE VS NORTH CLAYTON.. As u guessed it I went to Creekside due to redistricting!!!!

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