GREEN BAY – As the NFL facilities begin to open up across the country, the Packers plan to finish their offseason program like they started – online.
With many sports leagues restarting after months off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been some discussion about whether the NFL might soon allow teams to bring players in for workouts or a minicamp.
Whatever happens, Head Coach Matt LaFleur has been encouraged enough by what he's seen from the coaching staff and roster over the past month to stay the course with a virtual program in Green Bay.
"I think our guys have taken a lot from it," said LaFleur on Friday. "I think that our coaches have done a great job of being creative because it can get a bit monotonous being on Zoom meetings ... for a long period of time. Our guys have done a good job."
LaFleur said the Packers have received 100% participation from their 90-man roster. Safety Adrian Amos praised the virtual program and its structure in a previous call with Green Bay media.
It isn't completely foolproof. LaFleur mentions how video can freeze at times and everyone has to restart, but players have been able to learn at their own pace on their iPads.
It's LaFleur's hope that by the end of the month his team will be as ready as it could possibly be for when training camp begins.
"I think every year comes with new challenges. So I'm not going to try to look at what we've done in the past or rely on past experiences," LaFleur said. "We're going to face those new challenges that come with each year and attack it head on and do our best to put together a team that gets better each and every day."
Back in the building: With NFL coaches cleared to re-enter team facilities on Friday, LaFleur conducted his 30-minute Zoom call with Green Bay media from Lambeau Field.
He isn't forcing his assistants to follow suit, though.
LaFleur is leaving it up to his staff whether they want to return to the office or work from home through the remainder of the offseason program. In a tongue-and-cheek tone, LaFleur said only one coach has been prohibited from re-entering right now: assistant defensive backs coach Ryan Downard.
"He and his wife just had a baby," LaFleur said. "That's something I want to be very sensitive to. I told him he's the only one not allowed in our building. It is great to be back here today, but I'm going to leave it up to each individual's discretion whether or not they want to come back into this building."
No place like home: A year after spending most of his first offseason alone in Green Bay, LaFleur enjoyed getting a chance to spend more time at home with his wife, BreAnne, and their two sons, Luke and Ty, this spring.
Last spring, BreAnne, Luke and Ty didn't join LaFleur in Green Bay until the two boys finished the school year in Nashville.
"Being at home and being with my family, certainly I've definitely seen them more than I have in the last few years," LaFleur said. "Especially being able to stay in one spot and not having to move, move away from them. So that has been a positive."
Cram session: While a virtual offseason was a good opportunity for young players to get their feet wet, LaFleur knows it's going to take a lot more to get the Packers' incoming rookie class ready for training camp.
For that reason, assuming camp starts on time, the team is planning to bring its rookies to Green Bay a week early to help them get their feet wet prior to the veterans coming into town.
"That's something we'll certainly do to try to get them acclimated to introduce them to some of the stuff that we want them to do on the field," LaFleur said.
Camp considerations: The organization is formalizing its plans for how it'll handle training camp with COVID-19 still looming over all of professional sports.
A part of that conversation is determining whether the team will stay at nearby St. Norbert College, which has housed the Packers for training camp the last 60 years.
The team wants to be diligent about the structure of camp, especially after seeing a nasty flu bug move its way through the locker room late last season.
"Certainly I have thought a lot about the flu virus that went on within our team and the challenges that it presented for really the back half of the season," LaFleur said. "That's certainly at the forefront of our mind. We're certainly going to try to do everything in our power to avoid that moving forward."