And on the seventh day, they shall rest.
And the sixth day, too.
The weather gods turned Family Night into Mother Nature's night on Saturday. And while the players and coaches were disappointed, there was a hint of relief with a slew of players battling injuries. With nothing other than warmups on Saturday and a scheduled day off on Sunday, the players have a rare two-day break.
"I think it will benefit me greatly," running back Ryan Grant said. "You've got to take advantage of it. Probably do something (Sunday) to get the blood flowing so that I don't stiffen up too much. A couple of guys (who were given a day off) felt like they had been off for a week (when they returned). But we have been practicing really physical. I've taken a lot of reps. I think the intensity of what we're doing, the rest is appreciated by the guys because we're getting great work."
Eleven players were set to miss the scrimmage because of injury and starting cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson, as usual, were going to be given the night off. Plus, Jeremy Thompson was going to try to play with a groin injury because fellow outside linebackers Clay Matthews III and Brad Jones are injured.
Even by losing an entire practice worth of reps, coach Mike McCarthy said he wasn't going to schedule an extra practice.
"I don't think you can," he said. "We're going to do some extra treatment tomorrow. We're going to take this opportunity to get the players back and we'll hit it Monday morning just to keep our install schedule going. I'm very pleased with the number of reps that we were able to attain last week in practice. We feel as a coaching staff, just during the delay having an opportunity to meet with the coordinators and some of the coaches, we feel that we are ahead of schedule in some areas. Really, the health of our football team is the priority right now."
Saturday's practice would have been the only full-go practice of training camp, so the team will head into next Saturday's preseason opener without any to-the-ground tackling and cut blocking. Running back Ryan Grant gave a playful grimace when asked if he'll miss the lack of full tackling.
"To a degree. I feel like we've been getting hit a lot," he said. "There's difference going live bullets, going to the ground and different things. I think it helps the backs with pad level, even though our practices have been really physical. There have been a couple times where I know some of the linebackers were able to get some shots on me, and you do want to get used to getting hit."
Because McCarthy had cranked up the volume of reps in earlier practices, linebacker A.J. Hawk said the defense will be fine without Saturday night's work or an additional practice.
"I think that's why having this canceled tonight isn't going to hurt us as maybe it would have hurt us in years past with how physical we have been and the number of players we've taken," he said.
With nine practices in the books and no on-the-field work until 2 p.m. Monday, McCarthy said he health of the football team is of paramount importance, even with so much at stake at practice. He credited the players and coaches for their hard work during the offseason and the first week of training camp.
"It's the installation phase," he said. "If you're looking for statistics, you're always chasing, your mental errors are too high. Actually we're lower than we have been in past years, and I think that is a compliment to coaches and players, particularly on defense with the new scheme and the multiplicity of that scheme. There are some situations as I go through my checklist that we may rep a little more next week than we did in past weeks. We've got another red-zone emphasis coming. We have other third-down emphases coming that are very important because they are concepts that will apply to the early part of our season. That's really where my focus is."
Monday and Tuesday will be the last day of installs, with the team going to spend some time preparing for the season opener against Chicago on Tuesday night. Wednesday will be a review and Thursday and Friday will be used to get ready for the preseason opener against Cleveland. "We're definitely on track," McCarthy said. "I'm very pleased with the amount of work and the quality of work that we have been able to accomplish to this point."
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