And that apparently isn't changing anytime soon. This past weekend seemed like a logical time to schedule some practices, with most, if not all, of the roster in Green Bay for Thursday's Super Bowl ring ceremony. Instead, on Friday, the players jetted back to their homes to continue working out on their own.
"Yeah, there's always talk about that," linebacker A.J. Hawk told Packer Report on Friday. "For anything like that to happen, we just need to find a common place to do it. I don't think Green Bay is that place for us. We really don't have the facilities here that we would want as a whole unit to work out. Yeah, there's definitely talk about it. We're watching the lockout to see what's going on. We don't know if they're making progress. But we talked about it last night and it's definitely an option."
With about 40 days to go until the Packers' presumed July 30 starting date for training camp and progress in the labor talks being made, the waiting game continues. The Packers have been content to work out on their own while other teams have had varying levels of participation at their player-organized practices.
The Vikings, for instance, have had intermittent workouts with a handful of players here, a couple players there and few more scattered around the country, according to Scout.com colleague John Holler. Quarterback Christian Ponder, the team's first-round pick, arranged for offensive players to get together and seven or eight showed up in Florida. A few linebackers — Chad Greenway, Ben Leber and Heath Farwell among them — have been working out in Minnesota.
The Lions, who are seen as a rising power in the NFC North after beating the Packers to kick-start a season-ending four-game winning streak, have had nearly full participation. The other division rival, Chicago, has not had team-wide workouts but quarterback Jay Cutler has been throwing to his skill-position players a couple days per week.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy has said on a few occasions that he'd like to see the players get together, though that was more from a camaraderie perspective than anything. The fear of an injury, whether it's from an overly competitive practice, poor conditioning or a substandard playing surface, must be in the back of every head coach's mind. No significant injuries, however, have been reported at any of the teams' workouts.
What does any of this mean? Who knows. An interesting litmus test will come right off the bat, when the Packers host the New Orleans Saints in the league lid-lifter on Thursday, Sept. 8. The Saints, behind quarterback Drew Brees, have been arguably the most active team during the lockout, with six weeks of practices at Tulane University in New Orleans.
"We always wanted to stay ready and feel like we were gaining an edge," Brees told the Associated Press after wrapping up their final session last week. "I feel like we have been very organized. It has been great work for the past six weeks. Thirty-plus guys just about every day coming out, a combination of everything we would be doing at our own facility, but we're locked out. And yet we've found a way to work."
What's interesting is McCarthy has maintained that his offseason program has led to dramatic improvements and yet his players have decided to not get together yet. The benefit of practicing without coaches to supervise and script plays is debatable, but what is beyond debate is the Packers' rookies will be a mile behind when training camp opens. Because of the lockout, the draft picks have not seen the playbook. At sessions like those held by the Saints, the veterans have been there to at least give the rookies a big taste of what to expect.
"You've got to throw them into the fire a little bit," Brees said. "Obviously, we've had some classroom time with them and some opportunity just to talk through fundamentals and position-specific stuff. Then you just throw them out there and let the natural athlete and the natural competitor come out in them and see what their strengths are."
Instead, the only athletic endeavors the Packers have done on a significant scale are charity softball and golf events.
"There's got to be something to talk about, I guess," Hawk said of the no-workout stories in the media and the concern among some fans. "Obviously, it's a good camaraderie thing to get guys together and hang out and stuff but I don't think camaraderie's ever an issue for us. We have a great bond. I think it's more position-specific. Offensive guys can get a lot more done together than us defensive guys can. All defensive guys can really do is lift and run, and I can do that in my front yard. For us as a defense, we just have to make sure we come in in shape and feeling good and, most importantly, healthy."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.