Training Camp Report: Schedule Made For A Different Camp In '08

The Green Bay Packers had fewer training camp practices this summer than they normally do, and that schedule had both its advantages and disadvantages over the past month. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 26


The Green Bay Packers had fewer training camp practices this summer than they normally do, and that schedule had both its advantages and disadvantages over the past month.

On the plus side, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the tempo and energy of training camp was improved over his first two seasons, and having fewer workouts played into that.

"I felt our football players were out here working to improve. They weren't out here trying to survive," McCarthy said Tuesday following the last official training camp practice. "They were thriving individually, and I think that's important and I think the schedule helped them."

On the minus side, McCarthy felt the schedule was disjointed, mostly because the Packers' first preseason game was slated for Monday Night Football on Aug. 11. That forced the team to have its first practice on July 28, a bit later than usual, and led to all four preseason games being played in 18 days, without a full week in between any of the contests.

To illustrate how crammed the training camp schedule was once the games began, consider this: The Packers had eight practices from the start of camp leading up to the Family Night Scrimmage, and they've had eight practices between the preseason opener against Cincinnati and Thursday's preseason finale with Tennessee.

"We were able to get all our work done, and that was important," offensive lineman Mark Tauscher said. "Especially with the high attendance rate in the offseason, to take everything from April, May and June and bring it into August."

Throw in the drama involving Brett Favre during the first week-plus of camp, and it took the players a lot of focus to get that work accomplished.

"I think camp was pretty good. Obviously we had some things that kind of didn't have the attention on our team, but I think we fought through those things and we came together as a team, and we made some strides, and that's all you can ask for is to make some strides and to get better," receiver Greg Jennings said. "From when we first got here to this point now we've gotten better as a team."

McCarthy praised the amount of quality work the players were able to get done, and the 10 days between Thursday's game and the regular-season opener Sept. 8 will be put to good use. After a weekend to rest and recover, the players will be back on the practice field on Monday.

"We have some targets we still need to hit, and we have the opportunity Thursday evening versus Tennessee to get that done," McCarthy said. "We'll have a long week of preparation prior to that first game. It's my responsibility and the coaches' responsibility to get our team ready, and I have all the confidence in the world that we will do that. But we still have work to do."

Pickett back soon?

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, who has missed all of training camp with a hamstring injury, expressed no doubt he'd be back on the practice field next week to begin preparing for the season opener against Minnesota.

"That's my plan is to be out there 100 percent," Pickett said. "That's what I'm shooting for now."

Pickett injured the hamstring about a week before training camp started, and with other injuries hitting the defensive tackle position, the defense has missed his consistent, stout presence against the run. Pickett said he has kept himself in "pretty good shape" since he's been out, but good conditioning and "football shape" are two different things.

{sportsad300}Still, he doesn't think it will take him too awfully long to get himself ready to play once he's back at practice. He believes he can be ready to perform his first- and second-down run duty in about a week.

"Football is a game of repetition, so anytime you miss out on your reps, you always have to look better at certain things," he said. "So I'm going to be behind in that aspect. I've been playing for a while and doing the same thing for years, but it never hurts to touch up things, and that's what I've been missing.

"I think I'll be pretty close. I don't think I'll be that rusty. I'm not rushing the passer or anything like that. I feel confident that I'll be fine."

Injury/participation update

Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila's knee was sore after Monday's full-pads practice, so he was held out and his status for Thursday night's game isn't known. Same for defensive end Michael Montgomery, who missed Tuesday's practice with a groin injury, and cornerback Al Harris, whose absence was not addressed.

In addition to Pickett, remaining out and unavailable for Thursday's game were center Scott Wells (trunk), guard Josh Sitton (knee), linebacker A.J. Hawk (chest), safeties Atari Bigby (ankle) and Charlie Peprah (hamstring), cornerback Charles Woodson (knee) and wide receiver James Jones (knee).

McCarthy said running back Ryan Grant, who has yet to play in the preseason, likely would play Thursday only as long as the starting unit, provided he responds well to having practiced three straight days.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Action Needed: Update your Packers Mobile App!

Fans attending any games during the 2023 season should update their Packers mobile app due to important upgrades and enhancements.