Notebook: Rookie Camp Improved This Year

The Packers had a greater number of players than they had last year when Head Coach Mike McCarthy organized a rookie orientation camp for the first time. The larger numbers allowed the coaching staff to get more accomplished.


Better numbers made for better work at this weekend's rookie orientation.

With 11 free-agent signings, 19 tryout players and a handful of previous practice squad members, along with the team's nine draft picks, participating, the Packers had a greater number of players than they had last year when Head Coach Mike McCarthy organized a rookie orientation camp for the first time.

The larger numbers allowed the coaching staff to get more accomplished, because when the offense and defense were separated and working in different areas of the Hutson Center, there were enough players to form "scout teams" against whom the respective units could execute their jog-throughs.

And with the jog-throughs more worthwhile, the "team" drills pitting the actual offensive and defensive players against one another were more productive as well.

"We had some more players this year than we had last year, and you could just see the progression of practices, how they improved from Friday to Sunday," McCarthy said in his Sunday press conference following the third practice of the weekend. "I'm just very pleased with how the whole weekend went, and just like I told the players when we broke, I was very impressed with the quality of work we were able to get done this weekend."

McCarthy didn't have a rookie orientation in 2006, his first year, instead preferring to use the extra mini-camp allotted to a new head coach to bring all the players in and get more familiar with them.

But having done a rookie orientation last year and now improving on it this year, it's more than likely here to stay in the offseason schedule.

"This is in my view the best way to go," McCarthy said. "It's a teaching opportunity to get every player off on the right foot, cover all the little things that you sometimes don't take the time to cover in detail, both on and off the field, and it just gives them a chance so when they do come back here for the OTAs, they're able to step up and compete and step right into the flow of practice."

All the rookies now get essentially two weeks off before returning on Sunday, May 18, with the first OTA (organized team activity) scheduled for Monday, May 19.

McCarthy said quarterbacks Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn would probably take their playbooks with them, to continue learning it and getting familiar with the terminology, but McCarthy was happy with what they've picked up so far.

"Friday's practice was a little rough," McCarthy said. "It was better yesterday, and it was very efficient, particularly from the quarterback position, today. I'm very happy with the starting point that both Brian and Matt give us, but we do have a lot of work to do."

Maybe a handful more

McCarthy said there would be meetings later Sunday with the personnel department to determine which of the 19 tryout players to sign to contracts. He didn't reveal any decisions, but indicated there might be around four players signed and brought back for the OTAs later this month.

{sportsad300}Whether any additional players would be signed, or a fourth quarterback brought in between now and training camp, will depend on the roster limit. The current limit is 80, but the owners are expected to discuss at their next meeting in late May whether to raise that to 86.

Injury update

Asked about the availability of previously injured players in tight end Tory Humphrey (broken leg), defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (shoulder), linebacker Abdul Hodge (knees) and cornerback Will Blackmon (foot) for the full-squad mandatory mini-camp in mid-June, McCarthy indicated he'd err on the side of caution with all injured players to hopefully have them for full strength at the start of training camp in late July.

But Humphrey and Hodge are probably the closest to being ready for part of the OTAs or the June mini-camp.

"(Hodge) went out to Arizona and did some rehab before he came back to the offseason program," McCarthy said. "He really looks good."

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