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Packers' rookie class soaking it all in

Their NFL journey starts with this weekend’s minicamp

Packers safety Evan Williams
Packers safety Evan Williams

GREEN BAY – They're admittedly wide-eyed, excited, and a tad nervous.

But the Packers' rookie class is also ready to get down to business.

The first of two minicamp practices was slated for Friday afternoon, not long after Green Bay's draft class met with the media in the locker room for the first time, and the rookies were eager to take the field.

The 11-player collection was to be joined by eight undrafted rookies, more than a dozen tryout players, and another dozen or so practice-squad players from a year ago for a brief, though important, introduction to the playbook that actually began with a series of meetings and a walk-through Friday morning.

"There's been lots of studying," third-round running back MarShawn Lloyd said. "We've pushed right into it."

Added seventh-round QB Michael Pratt: "They've thrown a little bit at us."

After months of training for drills and 40-yard dashes in the pre-draft process, though, prepping for the actual football part of their new jobs has a comforting effect.

Getting the introductions to new coaches and teammates out of the way helps settle everyone in, too.

"Nerves slowly going away," fifth-round offensive lineman Jacob Monk said. "Starting to meet new people here. It feels like a true family here, so I'm enjoying it."

More from Pratt: "I would definitely say the nervousness level was very high last night and this morning. But just getting out there and going through the walk-through we had, spitting out the plays, getting lined up, seeing it, getting mental reps, definitely helped me calm down, take a deep breath.

"Now I'm excited for practice."

Multiple players said seeing and arriving at Lambeau Field for the first time was their "for real" moment to go with the phone call they received last weekend upon being drafted by the Packers.

It's times like these the emotions start to build, and it's important to at least take a moment to enjoy it before the work begins.

"Walking in this building was definitely an extreme high," fourth-round safety Evan Williams said. "You're looking around, looking at all the rings, all the championships, and just the culture that's been created here. It's an honor to be part of something like that. I've definitely had time in the past day to just sit down and be grateful for where I'm at."

No complaints were detected about their new surroundings, either.

"It's great. I'm not going to lie, Lambeau Field might be the best NFL stadium I've seen in my life," seventh-round cornerback Kalen King said. "I never knew how it looked, but now that I've seen it, it's crazy. I didn't know it looked like that. It's nice, for sure."

They've also started to get a sense of the new town they'll be calling home.

"It's low-key similar to Athens, man," said second-round safety Javon Bullard, a Georgia Bulldog from Athens, Ga. "It kinda gives you like a college town vibe."

Which brings it all back to another college activity – studying.

After this weekend, the rookies will have a couple of weeks to prepare as best they can for OTAs with the veteran players, a few non-padded practices per week that will last for about a month, including the offseason-concluding mandatory minicamp.

But for now, it's about processing the first few plays put in front of them.

"It's possible to digest it, but you're not going to digest everything," sixth-round offensive lineman Travis Glover said. "So you have to pick and choose what you're going to learn and just keep adding onto it."

Added Williams: "It's just getting the swing of things. They haven't put too much in the install, keeping it a light playbook, so when we go out we can just play fast. That's what they want to see from us, guys flying around, giving full effort."

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