GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers will open their eighth training camp under head coach Mike McCarthy on Friday, July 26 with a morning practice that will kick off at 8:20 a.m. at Ray Nitschke Field, the first of 19 open-to-the-public practices the team has scheduled this summer.
The 8:20 a.m. practice is the first of nine morning workouts, with more morning practices following on July 27, 28, 30, 31 and Aug. 1, 6, 7 and 8.
The morning practices are a departure from McCarthy’s previous 2-1-2 schedule in which the team would frequently practice at night.
Speaking at the NFC coaches breakfast at the annual NFL Meetings in March, McCarthy said he planned 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 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.”
The team’s first – and, only – night practice will be on Aug. 2 at 7 p.m., with the annual Family Night Scrimmage the following night at Lambeau Field. It is the lone night practice of camp. The Family Night Scrimmage at Lambeau Field on Aug. 3 will open at 5:30 p.m., with football drills set for 6:30 and the scrimmage at 7:30, weather permitting.
After the team’s preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field on Aug. 9, the team will shift into a variation of its regular-season schedule with 11:15 a.m. practices on Aug. 13 and 14 and an 11 a.m. practice on Aug. 15 in advance of the Packers’ Aug. 17 preseason road game at St. Louis.
The Packers will then hold three practices (11:30 a.m. on Aug. 19, 11:15 a.m. on Aug. 20, 11 a.m. on Aug. 21) before facing the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field on Aug. 23. The team will wrap up training camp with an 11:30 practice on Aug. 25, an 11:15 practice on Aug. 26 and an 11 a.m. practice on Aug. 27 before the preseason finale at Kansas City on Aug. 29.
Should inclement weather or any other factor force the team indoors, practices will be closed to the public due to space limitations inside the Don Hutson Center. Please also note that all practice dates, times and dress are subject to change.
Players are set to report on Thursday, July 25. McCarthy will hold his annual pre-training camp press conference that day as well.
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