GREEN BAY—The Packers' 2013 offseason program is underway, and Mike McCarthy is looking for a more productive session than last year.
Players returned to Lambeau Field on Monday for the start of the offseason program, a nine-week period that is divided into three phases.
The first features strength and conditioning workouts and individual meeting time for players with their coaches. The second combines the workouts with some on-field meeting time, and the third focuses on a series of organized team activities (OTAs), with a three-day mandatory minicamp sprinkled in.
This year's minicamp is slated for June 4-6, with the final OTA scheduled on June 14.
McCarthy wasn't satisfied with what his team accomplished in the third phase last year, the first under the new rules and restrictions of the collective bargaining agreement. OTAs have always been non-padded practices, but McCarthy would like to see sharper, more productive workouts this year.
"I felt there was a CBA hangover effect that affected the quality of practice," McCarthy said. "Everybody understands their roles, and the environment we want to practice in and safely train our athletes in, but that mindset can't take away from getting a team ready, within the rules, for training camp.
"I felt last year, out of all my years here, we did not achieve that."
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Prior to the new CBA, the offseason program was several weeks longer, and McCarthy has often pointed to players like cornerback Tramon Williams as an illustration of utilizing the Packers' program to its fullest. Williams went from a practice-squad player in 2006 to a Pro Bowler in 2010 in part by taking advantage of every offseason to develop his game.
McCarthy believes, despite the shorter time frame, that the program can still provide that foundation for young, up-and-coming players.
"It has to," he said. "You definitely wish you had your players here in March. I think every coach feels that way, particularly with certain positions that need the extra time.
"But the fact of the matter is we're all training and competing with the same amount of time as everybody else. It's still the goal to make strides, particularly with our younger players."
The program is structured to give all the players an introduction to the offensive, defensive and special teams playbook installations, which are then repeated – in more detail and with pads on – at the start of training camp.
"We want to make sure the players understand what's expected of them so when they come back for training camp, they're competing for jobs," McCarthy said.
In some respects, that competition will start with the first OTAs in late May, but for McCarthy, any individual battles will be secondary to what he wants the squad to accomplish as a whole by mid-June.
"I look for the quality of practice to really improve this year," he said. "I want to feel a lot better about where we are as a team this year compared to last year."