Informal Practices Aren't Worth Trouble, Risk

Unlike their Week 1 opponents, the Packers have not held any informal practices during the lockout, though they may, Aaron Rodgers said. That's just as well. There's more to lose than there is to gain by having a couple dozen players get together on their own.

With Monday's ruling by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals practically guaranteeing there will be little, if any, offseason action around the NFL, more and more players figure to hold some sort of informal team practices to take the place of OTAs and minicamps.

The Green Bay Packers haven't done so yet and they'd be wise to not even consider doing so unless the inept leadership of the NFL and NFLPA can't get this thing figured out by mid-July.

"We haven't yet," quarterback Aaron Rodgers told Sacramento radio station KHTK on Monday. "That's something I'm sure we will do if it continues to drag on. I think if you look at some of the reports that are out there, a lot of that is maybe over exaggerated about people getting together. You think about the number of different issues that are involved with getting those kinds of people together. It's just difficult to do. Donald (Driver) lives in Houston and he's not going anywhere. Greg (Jennings) lives in Michigan. James (Jones) lives in San Jose. Jordy (Nelson) lives in Kansas. Brett Swain lives in San Diego. To get those together who are all married and living with kids, is tough to do. We're going to try but it's going to be difficult."

Difficult and, quite possibly, senseless.

Rodgers is a brilliant quarterback and he's surrounded by playmakers. Playing quarterback — playing catch — with the likes of Donald Driver and Greg Jennings has to be a lot like riding a horse. (This coming from a guy who's never ridden a horse or played quarterback.) I just can't imagine it would take them more than a handful of practices to get back on the same page.

Moreover, simply having Rodgers throwing passes to Jennings would be of minimal benefit. The only way anything meaningful would be gained would be to have enough skill players on hand for a spirited seven-on-seven session. But with competitive guys, you're running the risk of injuries ranging from minor (due to the lack of a training staff hauling around dozens of water bottles or the lack of proper treatment before and after practice) to severe (due to the inherent danger of the game or playing on a field that's not of NFL-caliber).

Besides, the Packers are coming off of a grueling season. They played four additional games over an added five weeks after 20 teams' seasons had ended. A case could be made that exactly one starting job will be up for grabs — Ryan Grant vs. James Starks at running back — and, to steal one of Mike McCarthy's favorite lines, "What does starter mean anyway?" There will be plenty of carries to go around. Sure, it would be nice for the rookies to get to dip their toes into the playbook, but the Packers aren't expecting a lot of immediate help from their draft picks.

What's interesting is the dichotomy. On the one hand, McCarthy puts a big emphasis on his offseason program. On the other hand, does an experienced, battle-hardened team really need all of the offseason work, whether it's OTAs at Ray Nitschke Field in front of the coaches or some informal session at a college?

In theory, we''ll find out in about 17 weeks. That's when Green Bay is scheduled to kick off the season against New Orleans. While Rodgers and Co. are content to do their own thing, his counterpart, Drew Brees, has organized practices of between 30 and 40 players at Tulane University.

But for that game to be played, to see which offseason approach worked best, the stubborn owners and the hard-headed players must reach an agreement. That's about as likely as Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith sitting down to play a game of cribbage over tea and crumpets tomorrow evening.

"I'd say the majority of us are very optimistic that something's going to happen in the near future," Rodgers said of the labor situation. "There's too many parties involved and too much money involved, frankly, for there not to be a season, in my opinion. If you look at the big picture, a community like Green Bay needs the Packers to survive. The economy is built on people coming in to watch the games, coming in to watch training camp, and there's a number of restaurants, hotels, bars, and their livelihood is directly related to us having a season. I hope we consider that when we're negotiating and we find a solution that helps both parties. I'm optimistic we're going to get something done."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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