The Green Bay Packers Thursday announced practice dates and times for 2005 training camp, one of the most distinctive fan experiences in the National Football League.
-Rookies, first-year/injured players report: July 25
-Rookies, first-year players begin practice: July 26
-Veterans report: July 27
-Physical testing: July 28
-First full-squad practice: July 29
From July 26-Aug. 28, the Packers will conduct nearly five weeks of practices, most of which are free and open to the public, weather permitting. In an era when many teams are limiting their access to fans, Packers training camp remains open into the preseason's final week. Most NFL teams close all practices following their second preseason game.
No question, the Buffalo Bills' visit Aug. 4-5 will highlight the Packers' 2005 camp. Green Bay hasn't hosted another team in training camp since 1991. Executive Vice President and Head Coach Mike Sherman arranged to host the Bills for two practices as well as the Packers' annual scrimmage, 'Family Night, Presented by Fox 11,' because he wanted to offer more competition and provide some of the younger players another game-like experience.
The scrimmage, on Friday, Aug. 5, is expected to begin at 6 p.m., with event festivities starting at roughly 5:30 p.m. Traditionally an intra-squad affair, 'Family Night' has filled Lambeau Field for each of its first four editions, including 2004, when the Packers sold every available seat in the stadium bowl. The event is special because it offers a game-like evening to families, many of whom don't have access to Packers season tickets. The stadium's games have been sold out on a season-ticket basis since 1960.
A unique experience surrounding a unique team, Packers training camp offers young fans the opportunity to lend their bicycles to players for the trek to and from the practice field. One of the most intimate traditions in all of sports, riding kids' bikes to practice is believed to have been started by Vince Lombardi in 1961. Camp also offers 18 formal autograph sessions, in which selected players sign for fans randomly selected from among those in attendance. Many fans schedule their summer vacations to accommodate Packers training camp.
During camp, visitors again can enjoy daily themed activities, on-site interactive games, sponsored giveaways and community events. Every organized activity takes place in and around the Lambeau Field complex, including the Atrium, which contains seven dining options and two retail shops. Guests also can take a Lambeau Field tour and visit the Packers Hall of Fame.
St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., about a 10-minute drive from Lambeau Field, will serve as the Packers' summer home for the 48th consecutive season (the NFL's longest active tenure). During four weeks every training camp, the team utilizes the college for meals, meetings and living quarters, while using Lambeau Field, the Don Hutson Center and surrounding fields - the same facilities used during the regular season - for all training camp practices. The Packers have used the same operational structure every summer since 1958.