Summer vacation began for students throughout Wisconsin last week.
Summer vacation began for the Green Bay Packers’ veteran players on Monday.
Following pre-minicamp physicals on Monday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he allowed 14 veteran players – a “vets-select group” – to skip the three-day minicamp that began on Tuesday. That gives those players a few extra days of rest before the grind of a longer-than-usual training camp begins sometime toward the end of July.
That list ranges from 15-year pro Julius Peppers and 12-year pro and two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers to sixth-year receiver Randall Cobb. Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Sam Shields, Morgan Burnett, James Starks, Clay Matthews, T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga, Jordy Nelson and Letroy Guion also were part of the group.
Including the Hall of Fame Game, the Packers will play an extra preseason game this year. That means training camp will start a week earlier than usual – a big factor in McCarthy’s decision.
“if you look at the veteran’s workload as far as the nine-week offseason program, training camp, everything leading up to the beginning of this season, they’re excused from three practices today but they’ll have four or five practices that first week, so they’ll actually still have the same amount of work or a little more than they would in a normal training camp," McCarthy said. "So, that’s the starting point. And then with that, playing an extra preseason game our young players are going to play a lot more. This gives us another four or five practices to get those young players ready to play in that game. That’s really the baseline of the decision, and I thought it definitely was a win-win for everybody.”
McCarthy could only laugh when considering Cobb, who’s merely 25 years old, was now part of the veterans group.
“It makes you feel old,” McCarthy said.
Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, first-round pick Kenny Clark, fourth-round pick Dean Lowry and sixth-round pick Kyle Murphy made their first appearances since the post-draft rookie camp. Those three were still in school so, by NFL rule, were not allowed to attend the three weeks of organized team activities.
“The guys that just came in, there’s been a lot of communication through Skype and telephone conversations and things like that,” McCarthy said. “It will be really important for them to really just feel the stress and the speed of three days of practice. They’ll get everything that they need. I’m confident, based on the communication with the assistant coaches, that they feel good about where they are as far as their book smarts and what they’ve been exposed to. Now, they’ll be like everybody else was four weeks ago, and they’ll get to apply it to a practice and get out there and run around. It will be great just to get those guys acclimated.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.