GREEN BAY – The pads going on Saturday will change the look and feel of practice, and there are a couple of specific areas Head Coach Mike McCarthy will be watching.
One is the running backs, whose level of contact is rather reduced without pads and still limited with them, but their pad level going through the line and blitz pickup against extra pass rushers will start to work toward game mode now.
The running backs are far more experienced now than they were a year ago, when Ty Montgomery was entering his first full season as a running back and three rookie draft picks were behind him.
Montgomery, Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones all have performed in the bell-cow, feature-back role, while Devante Mays will be looking to make a strong impression in Year 2 after sparse playing time in 2017.
"I feel really good about the running back group," McCarthy said prior to Saturday's first full-pads workout. "Ty's transition has been pretty special, not only what he's done from the position change, but you look what he's done to prepare himself, if you look at his body and the muscle he's put on.
"Ty and the young guys, it's going to be a very competitive position. It's definitely a position that needs to jump out when we put the pads on today; 9-on-7 will be great training for those guys."
McCarthy is also looking forward to seeing the 2018 rookie class in pads for the first time. All of their training from the scouting combine through rookie orientation, OTAs and minicamp allows their athleticism to stand out, but now it's combined with full contact.
"I'll be focused more on the young guys," McCarthy said. "I just want to see them play real football."