McCarthy is a firm believer that an occasional night practice will give players a "boost" in morale and competition during an otherwise long six weeks of practices in July and August. The Packers will open their 2006 training camp at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Green Bay, the first of nine night practices. Portable lights will be set up and turned on as the sun sets over Clarke Hinkle Field.
McCarthy formulated the practice schedule this off-season. It is a 2-1-2-1 format that allows for more time between two-a-day practices, so players can meet with their position coaches to review practice film and make corrections in time for the next practice. Seven of the night practices are scheduled for days when there is a 9 a.m. morning practice. The night practices begin at 6:30 p.m., which likely will allow for more fans to attend. Though the Packers have one practice tomorrow, they will undergo physicals and condition testing in the morning, which serves as an unofficial practice. The only other time in camp when the Packers have a night practice with no morning practice is Aug. 5 when the team conducts its annual Family Night scrimmage in Lambeau Field, where more than 60,000 fans are expected to attend.
"The best practices I've ever been involved in in training camp have been the night practices," said McCarthy. "When I was in New Orleans and we were in Thibodaux, Louisiana, we would have 8,000 to 10,000 people in the stands (Nicholls State University), and our players were sprinting through the walkthroughs. Players like it. When the lights come on and you put people in the stands, especially around the third week of training camp, you need a boost."
With temperatures expected to be in the 90s this weekend in Green Bay, an early evening practice makes much more sense than a practice during the hottest part of the day. The change in schedule could be a positive new twist that players and coaches will use in years to come.
"There's a lot of benefits to it, obviously, from the players' wear and tear standpoint," McCarthy said.