Around the Packers' Lambeau Field locker room Wednesday, the mood was definitely reminiscent of the last day of school before the holiday break in December. Conversations throughout the room centered on times of flights and weekend activities back in the scattered hometowns of the Green Bay players.
With many of the veterans excused to take an early start to their bye week rest, the younger Packers had their last practice before a four-day weekend Wednesday inside the Hutson Center.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman was pleased with the results of the day's workout with the less experienced players, a practice that took on more of a mini-camp feel with a focus on fundamentals and drills.
"I thought we did what we had to do," Sherman said. "We had meetings this morning, had a lift, and a workout. What we did today was we were able to work with some of the younger guys on techniques and hopefully get them ready for the second half stretch."
Sherman stated that the coaching staff had a few areas of the team that they were really looking at Wednesday, both on and off the field.
"We got a chance to work with them in the meetings and then out here in practice and just kind of iron out the kinks," said the coach. "I really wanted to look at our defensive backs. We have a lot of young corners and we spent some time this morning working with them as well.
"There were specific positions we really wanted to get some work in, and I thought we were able to accomplish that. Quarterbacks was one and defensive backs was the other."
One of those young corners who was in the spotlight Wednesday was Joey Thomas. The rookie out of Montana State appreciated the individual attention he got in the less-populated workout.
"It was mini-camp all over again, but it was well-needed and I like these days," Thomas said. "I like the days where the coaches get to work with us hands-on, so it was definitely a good day."
The cornerback said that the practice was a refreshing learning experience when asked how he specifically benefited from the day's events.
"All the small things that sometimes you miss in practice, just the one-on-one attention," he said. There's nothing like it and there's no substitute for it."
Another player who was working under the watchful eye of the coaches was third-year quarterback Craig Nall, who has gotten a lot of first-team reps over the past few weeks with Brett Favre's practice time being limited by injury.
"Anytime I can get a chance to get out there in a team situation, it's obviously going to benefit me in the long run," Nall said of his recent work.
The quarterback said that his elevation to the second spot on the depth chart has really made a difference in his day-to-day activities and preparation.
"I'm ready," said Nall when asked how prepared he might be in the event he had to take over the offense in a game situation. "I've been preparing really hard the last few weeks. I don't want that opportunity to pass me by if it does present itself, I want to go in there and play well - let everybody know that I'm ready to play.
"Every week I have to prepare like I'm the starter. I have to watch just as much film as Brett does and do all the things necessary to get myself focused and ready to play."
Judging from the upbeat mood of the locker room, Sherman's plan of sending the younger players off for the long weekend with a solid, positive practice couldn't have worked out better. Look for these Packers, as well as their veteran teammates to return to work Monday refreshed and ready to roll in the second half of the season.