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Team's Focus Turns To Family Night


After a physical first week of training camp that featured nine practices, including three two-a-days, Green Bay's players will get a chance to perform under the lights of Lambeau Field in front of a capacity crowd at the ninth annual Packers Family Night on Saturday.

Last year the scrimmage was held on a Sunday night because the Packers were opening their preseason slate the following week on Monday Night Football vs. Cincinnati, but this year it is back to its normal place on the camp schedule.

"It's an important step in the process of training camp," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's our first opportunity to have a game atmosphere, which I don't know how many teams can say that based on their scrimmage.

"It's just an incredible environment that our fans create for us. Most teams probably have 10,000-15,000 people that they are playing in front of. For our younger players it's a great opportunity to go out there and see what it is supposed to look like."

Even though the young players on the Packers' roster have gotten a taste of game speed in the NFL during the first week of practice, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said it gets ratcheted up another level when there is live tackling allowed like Saturday night.

"It's fast in practice, but when guys can cut and you are taking guys to the ground, the game speed picks up even more," Rodgers said. "Hopefully we'll be able to make some plays on offense and put some points up on the board for fans."

For a defense that is continuing their transition into the 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the scrimmage will provide a chance to work on communication between the coaches and the players, as well as shuffling players in and out during the various sub packages that Capers will utilize.

"It's a great opportunity for our coaches, particularly a new defensive staff to go through their operations and communications and so forth," McCarthy said. "It's pretty much a dress rehearsal. But it's one step in the process of our evaluation of picking this football team."

With several players nursing injuries from the first week of training camp, McCarthy said the team will be careful in making decisions on which injured players participate in the scrimmage.

"We'll be smart," McCarthy said. "We're not going to try to go out and win the Family Night. Winning the Family Night is staying healthy."

For the players that are on the field Saturday night, especially those that are playing at Lambeau Field for the first time, Family Night will provide memories they won't soon forget.

"It's amazing," second-year quarterback Brian Brohm said. "The fans here I think are the best fans in the world. When you run out of the tunnel for the first time, it's a great feeling.

"Every single time you run out of it throughout the season, it's always a great feeling to run out there. It's going to be another great experience here on Saturday night."

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