Packers' Jaire Alexander trying to put team first in 2024

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In some ways, Jaire Alexander hasn't changed. The two-time All Pro cornerback for the Green Bay Packers still thinks quite highly of himself.

"The best cornerback in the league has entered the chat," Alexander said as he approached reporters in the Packers' locker room after Wednesday's OTA practice.

Alexander then spent much of the next 10 minutes explaining how things are different: From being in Green Bay for the entire offseason program -- something he mostly skipped last year -- to how much he likes the new defense led by first-year coordinator Jeff Hafley and what he has changed since his one-game suspension last season for conduct detrimental to the team.

"Just going into Year 7, at this point, I'm trying not to make it as much about myself and just do what's best for the team," Alexander said.

Alexander is coming off perhaps the most difficult season of his career. He missed nine games because of injuries (Weeks 3-4 and 7 because of back problems and Weeks 10-15 with a shoulder injury) in addition to the Week 17 suspension that came after he anointed himself a game captain in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers and then nearly botched the pregame coin toss.

Coach Matt LaFleur said at the time that wasn't the only reason Alexander was suspended. A source said LaFleur had fined Alexander earlier in the season.

"Ja's been outstanding," LaFleur said Wednesday. "He's been here every day, shows up, great attitude, eager to learn, is out there competing with the guys, talking trash, which I love because I love just amping up that level of competition in a fun way. He's never demeaning. I think he's been a great teammate and been a great leader for us."

To that end, Alexander said he no longer cares about being a captain because he plans to play a leadership role no matter what.

Alexander said he has had regular meetings with LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst this offseason. He also praised the new coaches LaFleur hired. That includes Hafley, new defensive passing game coordinator Derrick Ansley and even the new strength and conditioning staff led by Aaron Hill. He said he already has developed a deeper connection with them.

"I wouldn't say it was missing," Alexander said. "But ... it wasn't as easy as it is with this new staff. They've been great."

Alexander also has financial reason to attend the offseason program. He has a $700,000 workout bonus as part of the four-year, $84 million contract extension he signed in 2022. That, however, didn't entice him to participate last offseason.

"I think the biggest thing is just understanding that although I am on an island all the time and all day, it's the culmination of everybody being around and the culmination of the chemistry that we're building now that's going to matter later on in the season," Alexander said. "You'll see it."