As the Packers completed their offseason practices on Thursday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy praised the new schedule implemented this year and indicated he plans to continue with this format in the future.
In McCarthy's first two seasons as head coach, the Packers held mini-camp earlier in May and then followed that up with OTAs. This year mini-camp capped off the offseason as the players and coaches now take a break until reporting to training camp July 27.
"I clearly think this is the best format for the younger players to catch up to the veterans and also give the veterans the opportunity to go through the strength and conditioning program without being interrupted because you are able to get six, seven, eight, nine weeks of strength and conditioning where it is not interrupted by practice and so forth where it interrupts their training," McCarthy said.
Also, with the rookie orientation camp being conducted the weekend after the draft for the second straight year, the Packers' younger players were able to ease into the team's system before the veterans arrived for OTAs, which made for more productive work for everyone.
All of the players will meet with strength and conditioning coordinator Rock Gullickson and his staff to get their assigned weights before many of them head out to work out on their own in various parts of the country. The next five weeks will also provide the players with a chance to relax and spend time with family after months of work put in during the offseason program, something McCarthy said he encourages.
"I think it's a great opportunity for them to step away from our organization, our facility because they have been here since March, and train in a different environment and spend time with their families and get ready to go."
One area where the Packers were forced to do some shuffling throughout OTAs and mini-camp was on the defensive line.
With defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee) and defensive tackles Justin Harrell (back), Johnny Jolly (shoulder) and Colin Cole (forearm) all recovering from injuries, defensive end Cullen Jenkins moved inside on the defensive line with defensive end Michael Montgomery getting work with the first team opposite Aaron Kampman.
"You never want to see one particular group kind of dominate the medical report," McCarthy said. "We went through a situation last training camp with the running back group being hurt, so you can see how that affects that position, but it also can affect the way your offense or defense, whatever segment the injuries occur in, it affects the way you go through training camp."
McCarthy said he is expecting the defensive linemen, along with all of the team's injured players that missed time during the offseason, to be ready for training camp.
While many players will disperse throughout the country before they report to training camp, Kampman will spend some time visiting his brother, Curt, who has worked as a Christian missionary in Africa since March.
Kampman, who will be joined on the trip by his wife, Linde, and their oldest son, also did a two-week tour in January 2007 with Linde as guests of Gospel for Asia, a Christian ministry they support whose missionaries work in some of the hardest places to reach across southern Asia.
"We want to continue to expose ourselves to many different (cultures), to try to de-contextualize ourselves as much as possible," Kampman said. "We're going to get a chance to see another ministry over there as well."