This is an abbreviated version of the 2009 Training Camp Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.
TRAINING CAMP ARRIVES IN GREEN BAY
- One of the most anticipated events of the year – the official beginning of the NFL season – kicks off Saturday for the Green Bay Packers.
- Two-a-days. Positional battles. The echoes of pads colliding. And so it begins, the story of the 2009 Green Bay Packers, a team eager to erase the memory of last season and return to its place among NFC playoff contenders.
- A tradition first started under Curly Lambeau in 1946, training camp in Green Bay remains one of the most intimate settings in all of professional sports.
- This summer the Packers also debut their new refurbished training camp practice facility, Ray Nitschke Field. Combining the latest in playing-field technology with seating for 1,500 fans, not to mention the same exterior brick style as Lambeau Field, it promises to make training camp in Green Bay all the more special.
- Just as it does in Lambeau Field, the new blends with the old, as players will continue to ride kids' bicycles to practice, first started by Vince Lombardi, and stay in dorms at St. Norbert College, the NFL's longest training camp relationship between a team and school.
- According to the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, training camp, along with Packers Family Night, will attract an estimated 100,000 visitors from across the nation and as many as 20 foreign countries from Aug. 1 through the final open practice, Sept. 1. With an economic impact estimated at $25-30 million, training camp is a financial boost to many area businesses.
SAVE THE DATE
Important dates to remember (all times local):
Friday, July 31
Players report to training camp
Saturday, August 1
First day of practice, full pads, 2 p.m., Nitschke Field
Sunday, August 2
First night practice, full pads, 6:30 p.m., Nitschke Field (also 8:45 a.m. practice)
Saturday, August 8
Family Night Scrimmage, 6:30 p.m., Lambeau Field
Saturday, August 15
First preseason game, vs. Cleveland Browns, 7 p.m., Lambeau Field
Saturday, August 22
Preseason game vs. Buffalo Bills, 7 p.m., Lambeau Field
Friday, August 28
Preseason game at Arizona Cardinals, 9 p.m., University of Phoenix Stadium
Tuesday, September 1
Final practice open to public, 10:15 a.m., Nitschke Field; NFL-mandated roster reduction, to 75 players, by 3 p.m.
Thursday, September 3
Preseason game at Tennessee Titans, 7 p.m., LP Field
Saturday, September 5
NFL-mandated roster reduction, to 53 players, by 3 p.m.
Sunday, September 6
Clubs may establish eight-player practice squad, 11 a.m.
A LOOK AHEAD AT THE MONTH
- Nine practices under the lights highlight a total of 25 practices open to the public over the next month.
- As per usual under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, the team will employ a "2-1-2" practice format beginning this Saturday at 2 p.m. in full-pads. The team faces its first "two-a-day" workout the next day with morning (8:45 a.m.) and evening (6:30 p.m) workouts.
- Eighteen of the practices are scheduled to be in full pads, including eight of the first nine practices. The health of the football team, above all, will determine if those numbers stay the same.
- Not included in those numbers are the Packers Family Night, the ninth installation of the league's most popular intra-squad scrimmage, and four preseason contests in which fans will get their first live look at the 2009 Green Bay Packers.
STAFF CHANGES HEADLINE OFFSEASON
- On the heels of a disappointing 6-10 season, a new defensive staff and scheme headlined the changes this offseason at 1265 Lombardi Ave.
- Dom Capers was brought in as defensive coordinator, and the
Packers began the transition to a 3-4 scheme in offseason workouts.
- Joining Capers on the defensive staff are Mike Trgovac (defensive line), who spent the last six years in Carolina as defensive coordinator; outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene, third on the NFL's all-time sacks list and a former player under Capers; and safeties coach Darren Perry, who most recently coached in Oakland and also played under Capers. Assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Winston Moss remains on the staff, as does Joe Whitt Jr., who spent 2008 as defensive quality control before his promotion to cornerbacks coach this offseason.
- Shawn Slocum was promoted to special teams coordinator after serving as the unit's assistant each of the last three seasons. Curtis Fuller, a former Packers safety and training camp coaching intern, will serve as his assistant. New strength and conditioning coordinator Dave Redding is entering his 23rd season at the NFL level, while Scott McCurley (defense) and John Rushing (offense) will serve as the quality control coaches.
MORE ON DOM CAPERS
- Charged with revamping the Packers' defense is veteran coach Dom Capers, who is entering his 24th season on the NFL level in 2009, his 17th as a defensive coordinator or head coach.
- Noted around the league as one of the game's best defensive minds, Capers will transition the Packers to a 3-4 defense. Much of the depth chart on defense returns, including all 11 primary starters. The offseason was heavily focused on learning the new system, including position changes for some. None will receive more attention this month than Pro Bowler Aaron Kampman, who makes the switch to outside linebacker from defensive end.
- In addition to serving as the head coach of two different expansion franchises (Carolina and Houston), Capers brings an mpressive résumé as a coordinator. Pittsburgh ranked No. 22 in overall defense in 1991, the year before Capers' arrival. The Steelers' defense rose up in the defensive rankings to 13th in 1992, Capers' first season as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. The unit rose to No. 3 in 1993 and No. 2 in 1994, earning the moniker "Blitzburgh" with one of the decade's most feared defenses.
- Capers' instant impact was also seen in his stint as defensive coordinator with Jacksonville (1999-00) and Miami (2006-07). Ranking 25th in overall defense in 1998, the Jaguars' unit rose immediately under Capers in '99 to No. 4 overall in addition to allowing the fewest points in the NFL. The Dolphins ranked No. 18 in overall defense in 2005 but rose to No. 4 in 2006 under Capers, with DE Jason Taylor earning Defensive Player of the Year honors that season as well.
SOME NEW FACES SURROUND MANY FAMILIAR ONES
- While coaches get familiar with their surroundings in Green Bay, much of the Packers' young core remains intact.
- In fact, 21 of 22 primary starters from last season remain on the team, as do many backups who saw significant action in '08.
- Ten starters return on offense, while all 11 return on defense. But that doesn't mean there won't be some serious competition for playing time – and roster spots – this spring.
- As has been the case under General Manager Ted Thompson, most new players have come this offseason via the draft. The 2009 training camp will mark the first time since 1993 that the team has two first-round picks, and both NT B.J. Raji (No. 9 overall) and LB Clay Matthews (No. 26 overall) are expected to compete for playing time immediately.
- On offense, G/T T.J. Lang (fourth round) and T Jamon Meredith (fifth round) will be in the mix along the offensive line, while FB Quinn Johnson (fifth round) could push for a starting job.
- With an almost entirely new defensive staff, DE Jarius Wynn (sixth round), CB Brandon Underwood (sixth round) and LB Brad Jones (seventh round) will all get a chance at their respective positions.
- Joining the Packers via free agency were C/GnDuke Preston and S Anthony Smith. Preston spent four seasons with the Buffalo Bills after being drafted by the Bills in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He appeared in 59 games, starting 20 of them, including a career-high 11 starts in 2008.
- Smith, a third-round draft choice by Pittsburgh in 2006, spent three seasons with the Steelers. He appeared in 46 games, including 14 starts.
REST AND RECOVERY
- In addition to the traditional days off after a preseason game and the Packers Family Night scrimmage, Coach McCarthy has built in three off days to help players recuperate.
- Those days are three successive Wednesdays: Aug. 5, 12, and 19.
- On those days, the team will gather in the morning for weight lifting, meetings, and film review, and then have the afternoon and evening off before two practices the next day.
ST. NORBERT AND THE PACKERS
- Continuing a tradition started under Packers coach Scooter McLean in 1958, the Green Bay Packers will call St. Norbert College home for a 52nd consecutive training camp this summer. The relationship between the private college in De Pere, Wis., and the Green Bay Packers marks the longest continual use of any training camp facility by an NFL team.
- Players will take up residence in Victor McCormick Hall, a 60-room coed dormitory used to house 225 students during the academic year.
- St. Norbert, founded in 1898 by Abbot Bernard Pennings, celebrated its 110th anniversary last October.
- The Packers use their own practice and team meeting facilities at Lambeau Field during training camp, with the college serving as housing headquarters.
- Players return to St. Norbert via cars and vans every evening for team dinner.
- The 6.62-mile commute is estimated at 11 minutes each way.
- The team will travel roughly 264.8 miles between the college and practice facility during training camp…that's almost 4,660 lengths of a football field. It will take an estimated 7 hours, 20 minutes for the team to commute to and from the college…roughly the time of two-and-a-half NFL games.
NATIONALLY TELEVISED GAMES HEADLINE 2009 SCHEDULE
- The Green Bay Packers' regular-season schedule – containing five nationally televised games – was released in April by the National Football League.
- The Packers will play each of their NFC North opponents in front of a national audience, including a primetime opener in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field and a Thanksgiving game in Detroit against the Lions in Week 12.
- Green Bay also will travel to Minnesota to take on the rival Vikings in Week 4 for the first of two appearances on Monday Night Football.
- "It's great to see that the NFL and our network partners feel strongly about the national appeal and popularity of the Packers, with five of our games slated for national broadcasts," President and CEO Mark Murphy said. "For those taking in games at Lambeau Field, we'll now begin our detailed planning with our sponsors for creating the great gameday fan experience."
- The Packers' other appearance on Monday night comes Dec. 7 in a Week 13 showdown with the Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau Field. It marks the first MNF game played at Lambeau Field in the month of December.
- 2009 marks the 17th consecutive season the Packers have appeared on Monday Night Football, the NFC's longest active streak.
- Green Bay's fifth game in front of a national TV audience comes against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10. The Nov. 15 game will kick off at
3:15 p.m. on FOX. The fifth home game on the schedule, the Cowboys contest is slated as a Gold Package (Milwaukee season-ticket holders) game. Cincinnati comes to Lambeau Field in Week 2 for the other Gold Package game.
- "I'm excited for the 2009 regular season – we have a great opportunity starting with two home games and three early division games," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "Playing on Monday night after Thanksgiving will give us a chance for another break before the final month. Historically we've been strong in December, and we'll look to rise to that challenge."
- Green Bay's final four games of the season, including matchups at Super Bowl XLIII opponents Arizona and Pittsburgh, as well as the club's final division game of the season in Chicago, are all subject to the NFL's flexible scheduling.
- Built into the schedule for Sundays from Weeks 11-17, flex changes must be announced 12 days prior to kickoff, except for Week 17, which is announced on six days' notice.
- Green Bay is not a candidate to be flexed in Week 11 against San Francisco because the team plays just four days later against Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Packers also are not a candidate to be flexed in Week 13 because of the Monday night matchup against the Ravens.
- Green Bay's bye week – which occurs in Week 5 – is the earliest bye for the team since 1999, when it had its bye in Week 4.
- Though their bye week comes early, the Packers will get some extra rest coming off the Week 12 Thanksgiving contest. They won't play until the following Monday night, Dec. 7, at home.
- The Packers have five games against playoff teams from a year ago (Week 4 at Minnesota, Week 8 vs. Minnesota, Week 13 vs. Baltimore, Week 15 at Pittsburgh and Week 17 at Arizona).
- The first four games of the season will be broadcast on four different networks. After the bye week, Green Bay has seven straight games on FOX and could have 11 of the last 12 on the network, pending the NFL's flex scheduling. Also dependent upon the flex scheduling is the amount of 12 noon starts, which at this point is set for 10 games. An 11th, at Detroit, is set for 11:30 a.m.
- Green Bay plays three of the four teams who played in last season's conference championships. All three games (vs. Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, at Arizona) occur in the season's final five weeks. Making the season's final stretch tougher too is the fact that three of the final four games will be on the road.
- For the first time since 2003, the Packers will not play a division opponent in the season's final three weeks.
BY THE NUMBERS
Nothing gets more attention during training camp, both from fans and media, than positional battles. Here's a look at the Packers' current roster. Just a quick note – the first number is the number of players at that position currently on the roster, while the second is the number at the position during Week 1 last season.
Quarterback – 3 (3)
- Aaron Rodgers begins his second year under center for the Packers, a position that will attract considerably less fanfare this August. Rodgers eclipsed a number of statistical milestones in 2008, so his stated goals this offseason were to improve on his consistency and to work with play-caller Mike McCarthy to expand his role in the offensive game plan.
- Behind Rodgers there will be a competition between second-year signal callers Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm for the backup role. Flynn, a 2008 seventh-round selection, beat out Brohm, a 2008 second-round selection, last summer.
- Both went through their first year of McCarthy's quarterback school this offseason and split reps during OTAs this spring. Each will get a long look at No. 2 this August.
Running back – 5 (3)
- Ryan Grant enters camp entrenched as the clear starter and under much different circumstances than a year ago. Grant missed all of the offseason work prior to the 2008 season because of contract issues, and then proceeded to hurt his hamstring in one of his first training camp practices.
- That hamstring caused Grant to come out of the gates a bit slow, but he still managed to become just the fourth player in team history to top the 1,200-yard mark.
- This camp sees a much different Grant, one who participated in the entire offseason in Green Bay and seems ready to take on a large role in the offense.
- Vying for carries behind Grant will be a trio of returning veterans – Brandon Jackson, Kregg Lumpkin and DeShawn Wynn – along with rookie free agent Tyrell Sutton. Jackson, a third-year pro, has the edge in experience, but both Lumpkin and Wynn have flashed when called upon.
Fullback – 3 (2)
- Last year the team kept two fullbacks, but with two veterans returning and a rookie draft pick about to begin his first training camp, this position figures to be among the most competitive battles for a roster spot this August.
- Both Korey Hall and John Kuhn will be in the mix having been valuable contributors from scrimmage and on special teams each of the last two seasons.
- A knee injury suffered early in the season ultimately cost Hall five games last season, but the third-year pro was back in the mix this offseason. Kuhn saw his most extended action in '08 since arriving in Green Bay, but whether the team can afford to keep both for another season will be sorted out this summer.
- Also added to the mix this spring was Quinn Johnson, the team's fifth-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Lauded as a traditional fullback, Johnson paved the way for a 1,100-yard rusher in each of his final two seasons at LSU while also proving to be a reliable option in short-yardage situations and as a pass catcher.
Tight end – 5 (3)
- Tight end is always an interesting posititon to keep an eye on because of the way McCarthy likes to utilize the position on offense, especially with multiple tight-end sets.
- Donald Lee, the unit's primary starter each of the last two seasons, might be one of the more unheralded players at the position across the NFL. His numbers over the past two seasons (87 catches, 878 yards, 11 touchdowns) prove as much.
- One of the players on the roster most will be keeping an eye on is Jermichael Finley, a prime candidate to have a breakout season. Entering his second season and still only 22, Finley showed flashes of his potential at the end of his rookie season and is certainly a big, athletic target for Rodgers.
Offensive line – 14 (9)
- An opportunity for someone to emerge at the right tackle spot will dominate the talk along the offensive line, but there's also plenty to watch along the interior of the line.
- Jason Spitz, who has started at each of the three inside positions in his first three years in the league, will compete with veteran Scott Wells at center. Wells battled through an injury-riddled campaign in 2008, and offseason shoulder surgery kept the veteran out of offseason workouts. Spitz, who slid over to center in Wells' absence, is making the move to center not only because of his ability there, but because of the emergence of Josh Sitton at right guard.
- Sitton first cracked the starting lineup last summer in his first training camp, and the second-year pro will have every opportunity to win the job at right guard this summer. Veterans Chad Clifton and Daryn Colledge make up the left side of the line, with Clifton having 126 career starts in the Green and Gold. In three seasons, Colledge has 44 career starts.
- A new starter will take over the spot at right tackle, and it appears to be mainly a competition between Allen Barbre, Breno Giacomini, and rookie T.J. Lang. Barbre, a third-year pro, spent the entire offseason with the No. 1 offense, while Giacomini spent the offseason rehabbing an ankle injury. Lang spent time at guard and tackle this spring and could become a factor at the spot.
Defensive end – 7 (6)
- Defensive end will have a much different look both in responsibility and in roster numbers in defensive coordinator Dom Capers' 3-4 defense. The Packers kept six on the opening-day roster for 2008, but that number may drop this season.
- Cullen Jenkins, who has played both inside and outside, will look to return to form after a pectoral injury cut short what was promising to be a career season in 2008. Jenkins appeared in the first four games, with the Packers' defense collecting nine sacks over that time. The team accumulated 18 sacks in the 12 games Jenkins missed.
- Two players who may get the chance to start opposite Jenkins are Johnny Jolly and Justin Harrell. Both former defensive tackles in the old scheme, Jolly has the edge in experience with 32 games played, including 23 starts, in his first three NFL campaigns. Harrell has appeared in just 13 games since arriving in Green Bay as a first-round pick in 2007 but recently was able to participate in an entire offseason program for the first time as a pro.
- Another player who could see significant time at end is first-round pick B.J. Raji. Raji spent significant time at the position once he arrived in Green Bay this offseason and appears as though he will spend time both inside and outside in his first season.
- Veterans Alfred Malone and Michael Montgomery will get a chance to earn backup roles. As with any position on the roster this time of year, the duo will have some competition from younger players in Jarius Wynn, a sixth-round draft pick from Georgia, and rookie free agent Ronald Talley.
Nose tackle – 4 (3)
- The Packers kept only three defensive tackles last season in their 4-3 scheme, but there isn't really an accurate way of predicting just what the coaching and personnel staff will decide to do in the 3-4.
- Raji will obviously see time at the position and enters camp behind starter Ryan Pickett. Like Raji, Pickett could see time at multiple positions along the line, but he practiced exclusively at nose tackle during the offseason.
- Both Dean Muhtadi and Anthony Toribio provide some depth at the position, and it remains to be seen whether Capers and the staff will take a look at any of the ends – Harrell, Jenkins or Jolly – at the nose tackle position.
Linebacker – 12 (6)
- No position may look more different in 2009 than it did in 2008 than linebacker. Whether it be former defensive ends converting to the outside or veterans adjusting to new responsibilities, it will be one of the most highly watched position groups in camp.
- The team will most likely keep more than the total it did last year and should have considerable competition at both inside and outside spots.
- Converted from end were Aaron Kampman and Jeremy Thompson, both of whom lined up with the first-team defense this spring. Kampman, one of the NFL's most productive pass rushers over the past three seasons, will be under a media microscope all summer as he converts to playing without his hand in the ground.
- Thompson seems like an ideal fit for the position and was praised by coaches for his quick transistion to the position. Still, Thompson has a lot to learn about football in general, entering just his second season, and will have to fight off first-round draft pick Clay Matthews. Both should be major contributors on various special-teams units.
- In the middle will be veterans Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk, though Barnett may practice on a limited basis throughout camp as he returns from an ACL injury.
- Veteran Brady Poppinga could earn reps on the outside and some pass-rush opportunities and will compete with rookie draft pick Brad Jones, who played a similar position last year at Colorado.
- Desmond Bishop and Brandon Chillar could crack the lineup in the middle, especially as Barnett battles back to full strength. Spencer Havner and Danny Lansanah both were valuable members of the special-teams units a year ago.
Cornerback – 9 (6)
- While the team may no longer play as much press coverage as it had become known for in prior seasons, this group will still be led by Pro Bowlers Al Harris and Charles Woodson. Both were impressive in offseason practices and seem to have grasped the new system quickly.
- Behind the veteran duo is a group of young corners, led by third-year man Tramon Williams. When Harris was sidelined last season with a spleen injury, Williams stepped up in his absence and finished the season with five interceptions.
- After Williams, a number of young corners will be looking to establish themselves in sub packages and on special teams. Will Blackmon, the team's primary return specialist, and Pat Lee, a second-round pick in 2008, will have every chance to earn those opportunities this August. So too will Joe Porter, who appeared in his first game action last season after spending portions of the previous two seasons on the practice squad, sixth-round draft pick Brandon Underwood from the University of Cincinnati, and rookie free agent Trevor Ford.
Safety – 5 (4)
- All five safeties on the roster have NFL experience, and when you include Jarrett Bush, who will play both corner and safety and is a top player on the Packers' special-teams units, this could be one of the most competitive positions in camp.
- Nick Collins is coming off a career season in which he earned his first Pro Bowl berth, but the fifth-year player missed most of the offseason program and plays a pivotal position in the defense. Collins will be under close watch to see how quickly he can transition to the new defense.
- At the other safety position, Atari Bigby will look to regain the form he had two seasons ago after suffering through an injury-plagued '08. Competing for reps at both spots will be veterans Charlie Peprah and Aaron Rouse, who saw time in the secondary last season in Bigby's absence. Joining the team this offseason as a free agent was Anthony Smith, who spent his first three NFL seasons in the 3-4 in Pittsburgh.
Specialists – 4 (3)
- Though no specialist job in the NFL could ever be deemed secure, kicker Mason Crosby and long snapper Brett Goode are the only players at their respective positions on the roster. With a solid performance in camp and in preseason action, each should be back for another season.
- Where the competition lies will be at punter, where incumbent Jeremy Kapinos will try to hold off Durant Brooks. Kapinos punted in the last four games for the team last season and does cause return men some problems as a left-footed kicker. Brooks was a sixth-round draft pick in 2008 by the Washington Redskins and punted in six games for the team before he was released.