Packers look to create 'game-like' experience Sunday inside Lambeau Field

With opener two weeks away, Matt LaFleur planning for live scrimmage

CB Kevin King

GREEN BAY – To hear Head Coach Matt LaFleur tell it, Sunday's practice inside Lambeau Field will be the closest the Packers get to a "game-like experience" before their regular-season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

To prepare his team for what lies ahead in two weeks, LaFleur will have players in full uniform for the third team practice inside the stadium bowl this summer. Some elements will be the same as a typical practice, with the usual walk-through, stretch period, individual drills and one-on-one work.

However, there also will be quite a few differences. Some members of the coaching staff will be on headsets from the press box, and there will be officials on-hand for the first time to help simulate game-day procedures.

It'll all culminate in a live scrimmage, the first inside the Lambeau Field stadium bowl since Family Night in 2013.

"It's going to be all unscripted," LaFleur said. "And hopefully we can get into some situational ball that happens naturally throughout the course of a game.

"I'm really excited to see how these guys respond to that situation, to hear the call, so they can go out there and play fast."

In the absence of the preseason, LaFleur has run a few live-tackling periods with young players to reinforce technique and gauge where everyone is at with what's being asked of them.

The Packers also have utilized more 11-on-11 team periods this summer to make up for the lost preseason and missed reps from no physical offseason program. To this point, LaFleur has been pleased with how things have fallen into place since the team began practicing on Aug. 15.

As beneficial as that work has been, veteran center Corey Linsley feels this latest practice inside Lambeau Field will be the strongest indicator of how far along veterans are in their second year in LaFleur's system, particularly when it comes to running the ball.

"I think after (Sunday), we're going to have a great picture of exactly where we're at," Linsley said. "Exactly what kind of steps are needed to improve, and get to the point where we want to be in terms of tempo in this offense, and again the sense of urgency."

With the Packers preparing to shift to an in-season schedule next week, Sunday will serve as a final audition of sorts for young players on the bubble to make a case for a spot on the 53-man roster or the 16-player practice squad.

The Green Bay Packers practiced on Ray Nitschke Field on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020.

Receiver Reggie Begelton is one of 19 first-year undrafted free agents factoring in that competition. The 26-year-old receiver received only two tryout offers to NFL rookie minicamps after graduating from Lamar and played for three years in the CFL before earning his first NFL contract earlier this year.

Begelton knows how high the stakes are but said he isn't treating this week any differently.

"You can't view it that way or you will put that pressure on yourself," Begelton said. "Go out there, it's football. At the end of the day, it's football. You're here to play football. Just go have fun. I want to wake up in the morning and be like, 'You know what? It's a good day to play football.' I'm going to go out there and give it my best."

No different than the first 10 practices of camp, General Manager Brian Gutekunst and his scouts will again be locked on the action Sunday, taking mental notes before needing to pare the roster down to 53 by 3 p.m. CT next Saturday.

"I do think the intensity level when you go inside Lambeau and then just some of the competitive periods that Matt sets up are helpful in the evaluation phase," Gutekunst said. "I'm expecting some more of the same and another opportunity for us to kind of see how guys react and make decisions in that environment."

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