Mike McCarthy will practice under the lights on Clarke Hinkle Field eight times this summer. The exciting variation highlights the Green Bay Packers' 2006 training camp schedule, released by the club Tuesday.
The first of those night practices, a "Friday Night Lights" session July 28, kicks off the four-week camp and the Packers' preparations for McCarthy's first season as Head Coach.
And the team won't just hit the ground running, they'll be hitting, too. Having installed their new playbooks during two May mini-camps and June organized team activities, the Packers will don full pads for that first practice, a 6:30 p.m. affair. Plus, like those offseason workouts, McCarthy will start rookies and veterans from the same point. Early warmup practices for rookies are a thing of the past. The first session is a full-squad practice.
Traditional "two-a-days" are a thing of the past as well. Those night sessions are part of McCarthy's new "2-1-2-1" training camp schedule, used by a handful of teams around the NFL. In an effort to practice more efficiently, Green Bay in general will practice twice one day and once the next. On days when the team practices twice, the first session will take place at 9 a.m. and the second at 6:30 p.m., finishing under the lights. In between, the club will break down film of the morning practice. Then, on the following day, the Packers will report in the morning to evaluate the previous night's practice, hit the field at 2 p.m., and return to the film room that night.
Family Night, Presented by FOX 11, the league's most popular intra-squad scrimmage, is Saturday, Aug. 5, at Lambeau Field. The on-field football portion of the event, which offers fireworks and has sold every available seat the past two years, kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
Important dates on the preseason calendar:
- Friday, July 28 - Players report; first practice, 6:30 p.m., Hinkle Field (full pads)
- Saturday, Aug. 5 - Family Night intra-squad scrimmage, 6:30 p.m., Lambeau Field
- Saturday, Aug. 26 - Last practice open to public, 10 a.m., Hinkle Field (shells)
- Tuesday, Aug. 29 - NFL-mandated roster reduction, to 65 players, by 3 p.m. CDT
- Saturday, Sept. 2 - NFL-mandated roster reduction, to 53 players, by 3 p.m. CDT
The new camp schedule creates several opportunities for fans. On days with two practices (morning and night), fans now will have more mid-day flexibility to explore several shopping and dining options offered by the area. As they have in years past, fans also will have the opportunity to visit the Packers Hall of Fame, take a stadium tour and enjoy Curly's Pub and other Atrium eateries, all at Lambeau Field. With the element of night practices, other offerings will be developed for fans in the Atrium to help plan their schedules.
Also, the night sessions offer those who live in the immediate area more opportunities to see the team practice, after the workday concludes.
An economic boon for the Green Bay area, training camp annually attracts approximately 100,000 visitors and gives the local economy a $35 million boost, according the Packer Country Regional Tourism Office. Camp again will welcome visitors from all over the country, and all over the world.
This marks Green Bay's 61st training camp, a tradition that began in 1946 under Curly Lambeau. One of the most intimate preseason settings in the NFL, Packers training camp is unique in several respects. Players have been riding kids' bicycles to practice since the Vince Lombardi era, and the team has lived in dorm rooms at nearby St. Norbert College since 1958, the league's longest training camp relationship between a team and school.