The Green Bay Packers wrapped up their first mini-camp of 2005 with a practice for rookies and a few selected veterans inside the Don Hutson Center, Sunday.
This week's practices were conducted with players in jerseys and shorts instead of the pads of training camp, so in many ways it's too soon to make any judgments about the state of the team. But Head Coach Mike Sherman said he saw things he liked throughout the workouts.
"I thought the week went real well," Sherman said. "I'm cautious because you have to take it to the field. I remember saying the same thing after this camp last year and felt good about it and I feel good about it now. I think we had a good week of work. I thought there was good enthusiasm, guys running around trying to make plays. I thought it was money in the bank."
With the bulk of the veterans departing after the morning practice Saturday, the final two workouts provided Sherman and his coaching staff an opportunity to evaluate the newest members of the Green and Gold.
"I think that each guy showed a little something at different times," Sherman said. "I guess the best answer would be that no one disappointed me. Usually you come out here and say 'I don't know about that one.' But I felt pretty good about all of our draft picks. I think it's a good group. I think they're athletic and we have good speed on the field. I think that's a plus and I saw good effort out here."
In addition to the 11 players the Packers picked up in the draft, Sherman also was impressed with the group of undrafted free agents who joined the team last Friday and hopes that he can duplicate the success he had with undrafted players Tony Fisher and Kevin Barry, both of whom have remained with the team since 2002.
"I think there are a lot of interesting undrafted free agents," Sherman said. "I'm always excited about those guys, even more so than the draft picks sometimes. If you can get some of those guys on your team like Tony and Kevin, then you've really helped your roster. I think there are a couple of those guys that have stepped up this week."
The Packers will take a few weeks off before returning to the field in June for the final mini-camp, while training camp gets under way in late July. But in his departing message to the team, Sherman warned that the offseason is not the time to let down their guard.
"I just told them what it takes to be great players, to be a great football team and about the commitment I need out of them from this point on," Sherman said. "We need guys to continue to make deposits in this season.
"You don't win or lose games in my mind during the season, you win them this time of the year when you're preparing for the season and you take that hard work to the field. I want to make sure they're doing the necessary things between now and the next time we see them for mini-camp or the opportunity sessions and that they're doing the right things. I reminded them that when they scatter all over to represent the Green Bay Packers and themselves in a very positive light."