28

July

Packers Training Camp: “The Collisions Have Started”

Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams

Rodgers and Adams emerge and prepare for the 2014 season. Adams is one of several young receivers vying for a roster spot (Photo credit: Morry Gash/AP)

Monday brought day three of training camp for the Green Bay Packers and they seemed to pack a lot into a two-and-a-half hour period.  One of the first tweets by the media came from Wed Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette that simply stated “the collisions have started”.

Among those who have already made news in the three days of camp practices are Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Julius Peppers, Casey Hayward and Colt Lyerla.  Some have made good impressions while others, not so much.

Head coach Mike McCarthy has made some adjustments to this year’s schedule and some changes for the first time in his nine seasons in Green Bay.  These include the timing of practice, specifically as they prepare for their preseason games.

McCarthy will not hold practice two days prior to the game and will instead hold the usual team walkthrough the day prior.  In previous years, the team held their walkthrough two days before the game with no practice the day prior.  He plans to implement this schedule during the regular season as well in the hopes that it reduces the lull before the game and his players will remain more focused.

Monday’s practice lasted about an hour longer than most OTA and mini camp practices so the team is spending a bit more time on the field and preparing for the upcoming season.

There have not been any new nor significant injuries to report.  This may not seem like a big deal this early into the preseason, but over the past few years, the Packers have seen some early injuries that impacted their roster.  At this same point last year, they had already lost offensive lineman J.C. Tretter to an ankle injury that forced him to miss most of the 2013 regular season.

The Packers are using some advanced technology to monitor their players and try to avoid too much stress on their bodies in the hopes that it will also reduce injuries.

Jay Sorgi of 620WTMJ and the Green Bay Packers Radio Network and Dan Koob of the NBC affiliate, WGBA in Green Bay, offered nice recaps of Monday’s work and below is a recap with some commentary.

Camp recap

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25

July

More Packers Training Camp Questions

Nick Perry & Clay Matthews

Having a healthy Matthews and Perry at the outside linebacker spots is the best-case scenario for the Packers

The Green Bay Packers begin reporting for this year’s training camp today to take physicals and get settled in.  Practices begin tomorrow and hence the team’s quest for a successful 2014 season.

Last week’s “questions” piece was a success so I thought I’d give it another try.  As  always, thank you to those of you who submitted your questions and I chose that were most recurring.

1.  Which one player has to have the best training camp for either himself or the team?

Always a good question and one that sparks some good debate.  Many could argue that quarterback Aaron Rodgers needs to get in sync with his receivers and is the key.  Others may cite a wide receiver, as that position group has some undecided spots open.  Some would cite most any rookie, since they haven’t taken a single snap during live action yet.

To me, the theme here is on defense and the linebacker position.

From an individual perspective, it’s linebacker Brad Jones.  Head coach Mike McCarthy has said he wants more playmakers on the field and he wants to see more plays made on defense, specifically.  Jones has drawn the ire of some fans and media for his mediocre play since signing a contract extension following the 2012 season.  He is set to make $2.5 million this season and $3.25 million in 2015.

Jones battled some injuries last year and was replaced by Jamari Lattimore during that time.  Jones regained his starting position when he returned, but there was some debate as to whether the Packers would benefit more from having the feisty Lattimore next to A.J. Hawk.  Lattimore will certainly come into training camp ready to fight hard for a bigger role this season.

While I described Jones’ play as mediocre, some of the same could be said for Hawk and the inside linebacker position, as a whole.  Hawk seemed to ratchet up his play a bit last season and, if nothing else, has been very healthy during his career in Green Bay.  He’s not the flashy linebacker that many thought they were getting when he was chosen fifth overall in the 2006 draft, but Hawk has proved valuable in a more subtle way.  Hawk will be a starter this year, without a doubt.

11

July

Green Bay Packers Short on Practice Time

Green Bay Packers training camp

The Packers have just 17 practices to prepare for the 2014 season

This year, the Green Bay Packers have a mere 17 practice sessions at their disposal during training camp.  That’s not really big news.  After the latest collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was put into place back in 2011, several of the current restrictions on practice protocol went into effect.

Teams don’t practice all day or have two-a-days like they used to and when you consider that most practices lasts about an hour and forty five minutes, that equates to just under 30 total hours of work.  That’s less than an average work week for you and me.

That doesn’t include valuable preseason games, so there are more opportunities for the team to see their players in action and gear up for this coming season, but just 17 camp practices?

I get the new rules, I just see that number and am reminded of why many NFL teams don’t hit their peak until a few games into the season, sometimes later.  I’m also reminded of why we tend to see many teams beat another team that they wouldn’t otherwise if they were to face each other later in the year (the Packers have to be hoping for this scenario in week one against the defending champion Seattle Seahawks).

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has talked about using less scheme and more personnel groups this season.  He wants to be more “multiple”, as he says, meaning using the different strengths of each player and within the scheme to maximize results.  McCarty cites the number of young players on the roster as the primary reason.  You can also thank the lack of practice time.

Some argue that professional players can play and they don’t need to be ramming into each other all day, every day to get ready for the season.  That may be true in some cases, but many teams would seem to benefit from more emphasis on fundamental football and the Packers are one of those teams.

The tackling, for example, has been marginal over the last three seasons.  While the Packers say they work on it as often as they can, training camp offers more of an opportunity to do it in a live setting.  During live periods, players can make more contact with each other, although rarely is full contact encouraged anymore during practice.