Rookies Get First Glance At Playbook

Welcome to the NFL, young men. Here’s your playbook ... (thump) ... for this weekend. "It’s just Day 1 install, but it’s still a pretty thick book," rookie QB Brian Brohm said. "It’s a lot of stuff you have to learn, which at this level, everyone is going to have to realize it’s a lot of stuff coming at you fast. We’re going to have to pick it up as fast as we can." - More | Photos

Welcome to the NFL, young men. Here's your playbook ... (thump) ... for this weekend.

"It's just Day 1 install, but it's still a pretty thick book," rookie quarterback Brian Brohm said Friday afternoon, prior to taking the field for the first of the Packers' three rookie orientation practices.

"It's a lot of stuff you have to learn, which at this level, everyone is going to have to realize it's a lot of stuff coming at you fast. We're going to have to pick it up as fast as we can."

That's the rookies' task in this three-day introduction to the NFL. A combination of nine draft picks, 11 non-drafted free agents and 19 tryout players are donning a professional football helmet for the first time inside the Don Hutson Center this weekend.

For the offensive players, much of their orientation will center around learning some of the basics of the offense. Even for players coming from major Division I programs, NFL offenses are far more complex than what they're accustomed to from college. There are more formations, more pre-snap reads and motion, and just more plays, period.

But right now, "obviously it's not the whole thing," quarterback and seventh-round pick Matt Flynn said.

"I've heard so many stories from different people saying it was like a big phone book, so I was kind of expecting five inches of pages, and it wasn't that big. But it's a lot of information, and they pack it in there. It's mostly the basic stuff, all the protections and different routes and everything like that. Right now I'm just in the memorization process and trying to get all the terminology down."

A starting point for any player is finding which parts of the offense are similar to what he ran in college. Brohm and Jordy Nelson, second-round draft picks from Louisville and Kansas State, respectively, said they've already found a few parallels.

Some plays and concepts might be basically the same but with different terminology for the formation, protection scheme or pass route, for example. So one way to build a foundation is just learning the new names for the familiar elements.

"We were going over the offense earlier, and Brian has to know everything, and I just need to know the O-line stuff," said offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, a fifth-round pick from Louisville and college teammate of Brohm's. "Just having him go, 'This is what we used to do. This is what they call it,...' that helps tremendous, like you wouldn't believe."

It also helps that Head Coach Mike McCarthy told the rookies upon giving them their playbook at the start of orientation that no one is expected to have it memorized inside and out.

There's studying to do, sure, but the coaching staff doesn't want the players so paralyzed by the paperwork that they don't show their athletic skills on the field.

"They're just telling us to be patient with it," Nelson said. "They know it will come. They know we'll be able to pick it up quick. So we just have to be patient and don't get frustrated with it."

{sportsad300}Wide receiver and seventh-round pick Brett Swain said he felt relieved to hear what McCarthy had to say in that first meeting.

"He told us, 'Just be calm, learn what you can, but don't stress out about it,'" Swain said. "It took a lot of pressure off my shoulders and a lot of people's shoulders here, that hey, there's an opportunity to play football here, and they're not putting that pressure on you to learn everything in two days. It's a great thing, actually, to just go out and play football."

The way McCarthy and his staff structure the installations, each new portion of the playbook builds off of the previous ones. So this weekend will give the rookies a foundation for the installations to come during the OTAs and mandatory June mini-camp, when their knowledge of the offense will continue to grow.

"It's complex, but there's obviously still a lot more to be put in," Brohm said. "You just basically need to go out there, try to execute today and see how it goes."

The accomplishments likely will be minimal, but nonetheless significant.

"We'll get familiar with some of the playbook, get a feel for where everything is around here, meet some people," Nelson said. "That way when we come back in a couple weeks we're ready to roll."

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