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.