Notebook: Rest And Recovery Built Into Camp


The Packers' training camp schedule for this summer includes something rarely seen during the supposed "dog days" of summer.

Days without a practice.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy has scheduled three Wednesday off-days (Aug. 1, 8 and 15) during long practice weeks, with the hope of preventing players from wearing down over the long five-week camp. The days aren't completely void of work - they will include meetings and indoor walk-throughs of on-field concepts - but they will not include an actual on-field practice.

"I'm just operating in the same interest I always am - in the best interest of our football team," McCarthy said. "I'm not trying to be a guru about scheduling or anything. I think it's going to help our football team."

McCarthy decided to incorporate the off-days after closely studying two things. First, he felt last year when the Packers had a long week prior to their third preseason game on a Monday night in Cincinnati, he overworked the players, and it showed in their performance, a 48-17 defeat that began with a 31-0 deficit. McCarthy said he was critical of himself in that respect.

Second, he saw first-hand how much rest and recovery were worked into the players' strength and conditioning schedules during the offseason program, and how much they benefited from that in their individual workouts. So he is applying a similar concept to the team workouts.

"It's the anti for coaches because you're always trying to do more," McCarthy said. "It's really clearly for that reason, about rest and recovery. To do it on Wednesday, right in the middle of the workload, I think is smart, and we're still able to get everything done."

While the players didn't necessarily confess to being overworked last summer, they weren't complaining about the new schedule, particularly veterans who have been through their share of two-a-day, every-day training camps.

"I think it's going to help our bodies," defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila said. "We're going to be able to get our work in, but at the same time we're going to get rest and feel fresh as we get close to the season."

Fellow defensive end Aaron Kampman said the new schedule is also a reflection of the modern-day NFL, when training camp isn't used to whip players into shape as in the past. It's also indicative of how much work the players, both individually and as a team, have accomplished during the offseason.

"We come in, in shape," Kampman said. "We come in, in peak condition, and sometimes in camp at times you can diminish that if you're not careful. It's just a balance of being able to feel that, and I think Coach McCarthy does a great job of figuring that out.

"Obviously we're pretty excited about having a little more down time, and hopefully that will help us continue to be fresher on the field when it counts."

Fully installed

As they did last year, the Packers have installed all of their offensive, defensive and special teams schemes for the 2007 season during the June OTAs. One area the team improved upon during OTAs this year, according to McCarthy, was eliminating unnecessary pieces of the scheme and cutting down the playbook volume, which has sharpened execution of the key pieces.

"Just the way we practice - our practices are better, and I think that's part of where we are as a football team and how much of the offense, defense and special teams we have in," McCarthy said. "As of today we have everything in, everything that we're going to use next year is in. We're clearly further ahead than we were last year, and we need to carry this into training camp."

{sportsad300}Back at it

Safety Marviel Underwood, who wasn't expected to participate in any team (11-on-11) drills until training camp, slipped into the defensive backfield for a few snaps during the team red zone sequence on Monday.

Underwood has been recovering all offseason from an ACL injury sustained in the preseason opener last year. He has been doing all the individual drills.

During his brief team stint, he appeared to move around well and went up to challenge one pass side-by-side with a receiver, helping to deflect the overthrown ball incomplete.

On guard

In the wake of linebacker Nick Barnett's arrest late Saturday night following an incident at an Appleton, Wis., nightclub, McCarthy said he expects the players to learn a lesson from their teammate's situation.

"It's a continuing message," McCarthy said. "These are part of the lifestyle of being an NFL player, and you've got to be smart out there. First of all, you need to avoid that type of environment, and when you're in that type of situation, you need to diffuse it. We'll continue to talk about those things with our football team."

Linebacker Brady Poppinga noted that an NFL representative spoke at a team meeting last week to go over the new personal conduct policy that applies to all players and NFL employees. It's unclear at this point whether Barnett will face any penalties under that policy.

"If you look at the whole entire landscape of the NFL right now, up and down, any conduct that's not in accordance with following the law -- getting arrested, stuff like that -- they're harping down on it," Poppinga said. "Obviously there's an emphasis on that, so you have to stay clear of that and put yourself in the best situation possible to stay away from anything that can get you in trouble with the league."

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