Hallelujah! Two-a-days end tonight

Players are happy the grind is over, and praise coach Mike McCarthy for his keep-them-fresh approach.

After tonight's practice, the worst part of training camp will be over.

The 6:30 p.m. full-pads practice will be the final session of two-a-days. The landmark day on the training camp calendar was met with universal happiness in the locker room after the morning workout.

"Yes. Yes it is," defensive end Jason Hunter said with a wide smile. "It's a relief for a lot of guys, but Coach (Mike) McCarthy has put a great schedule together. Coach has really taken care of us and keeping us fresh. We try to go out there and let how he's helping us recover reflect in our practice by practicing hard and executing really well."

Verbals pats on the back for McCarthy — often uttered without prompting — were common. Today is the 12th day of training camp, and they have practiced twice on five of them. The players have had three practice-free days, including Thursday. They'll have another one on Tuesday, after Monday night's preseason opener against Cincinnati.

"It will be exciting tonight. When we're all done at 10 p.m., then I'll be excited," offensive lineman Daryn Colledge said. "That last day is always one of those ones that you kind of got to be, OK, mark that one on the calendar. We got here, and we make it through tonight, we'll be all right."

A couple of the defensive guys didn't even know two-a-days would be over after today.

"It's over already?" asked cornerback Tramon Williams. "I missed the whole first week (due to an injured hip flexor), so I'm just getting back into things the way I really want to. It's a good schedule. What can I say? It's a good schedule for us to keep our legs fresh. You're going to get tired at times, but go out there and finish this last practice up strong, this last two-a-day, and go on from there."

Seated next to Williams was safety Nick Collins.

"I didn't know this was the last two-a-day practice," Collins said. "But it's great. It's great. It gives guys the opportunity to recover. It was a grind for the first week with everybody trying to impress the coaches. So, it's the last two-a-day practice tonight, so everybody's going to go out there fired up and give Coach the thanks for this nice schedule he gave us."

For receiver Jordy Nelson, a second-round draft pick from Kansas State, this is his first NFL training camp.

"I'm feeling all right. Obviously, there's some bumps and bruises and some wear and tear, but that's typical when you go through two-a-days," Nelson said. "But I think the coaching staff has taken care of us well in getting us prepared for (Monday's) game."

Nelson said the training camp workload between college and the NFL is similar, but a Green Bay summer sure beats the 100-degree heat his former teammates are sweating through in Manhattan, Kan.

"This is a lot more mental up here," Nelson said. "Learning a brand-new playbook is a little more mental wear and tear, but any camp's going to be hard. There's differences all over the place, but it's been a tough one. I'm feeling pretty good. Just the way the coaches have handled us with the reps and the way they've structured this training camp, I think they've done well in keeping us fresh for the games."

While about 15 players sat out this morning's practice, most of them were out to rest, not because they were injured. That, Colledge said, is a credit to McCarthy's practice schedule.

"Injuries plague every team, and healthiness is always important," Colledge said. "We have been fairly fortunate to be a healthy squad, and that's due to the way Mike treats us and the way Mike takes care of us. If we continue to perform, he'll continue to do that, and that's important for us."

One of the players who got the morning off was longtime right tackle Mark Tauscher, who praised the practice schedule before Thursday's off day. While there have been plenty of opportunities for rest, it's been all business on the field with up-tempo practices.

"Coach has been great as far as keeping guys' legs," Tauscher said Wednesday. "To get a day off in the middle of the week is great. Usually, this time of year, you hear a lot of guys complaining. You can't complain. The schedule we have is great. We're out there for awhile, but when we're out there, we're working. And when we're not, there's not a lot of wasted time, and players respect that. You know what your workload's going to be and he sticks to it. You have a certain expectation level, and they have an expectation level of what needs to be done when you're out on the field."

Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com

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