PHOENIX – Nighttime practices at training camp this summer may be a thing of the past. At the very least, you won’t be seeing the Green Bay Packers under the lights of Ray Nitschke Field very often.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said during the NFC coaches breakfast Wednesday at the annual NFL Meetings that he’s going to alter the camp schedule, going away from the schedule he implemented when he arrived in 2006.
“The preliminary training camp format I have on the board is less night practices, more morning practices and we’re going to change some things,” McCarthy said. “You don’t ever stay the same.”
While McCarthy joked about some of the causes – “I’m sure the ice cream at St. Norbert didn’t help, (or) the late night pizza,” he said – McCarthy acknowledged that players had trouble winding down after night practices. That’s one of the reasons why, when the players complained about the night practices two years ago, McCarthy reduced the number of nighttime workouts.
Last year, McCarthy basically broke up training camp into three sections, doing some morning practices, then some nighttime practices, then afternoon workouts before going to his in-season schedule. He had fewer night practices last year than in 2011, joking in camp last year that he was only holding them out of “Catholic guilt” for making the team buy field lights. The Packers do have their annual Family Night Scrimmage inside Lambeau Field.
“We’re looking at everything involved. We all know how important sleep is,” McCarthy said. “There’s more and more sleep studies that we’re looking at, sleeping patterns, the pattern of how the body functions in the morning and afternoon, evening. There’s benefits to night practices; there’s benefits to morning practices. But you really have to look at the whole picture.
“It will be different than last year.”
McCarthy said he has finished the schedule, pending adjustments for when the Packers’ preseason games. Last year, the Packers played all four of their preseason games on Thursday nights, which McCarthy liked.
McCarthy also felt that the schedule led to some injuries sustained in camp and acknowledged he pushed his guys too hard at times – even though some have criticized him for having “soft” camps.
“Just think about what kind of body clock you’re putting your team on for a long period of time. Where is the transition point from training camp to an in-season schedule? Those are the things we have to take a hard look at,” McCarthy said. “Do you go to it early? We went to an in-season schedule the last two weeks of training camp. I felt good about the transition part. The thing we were stressed as a football team was right in the middle of training camp. We had some fatigue injuries show up, we did some more no huddle, more running, more stress. So you look at everything and be critical of yourself, be honest with yourself.”
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