What spring training is to baseball, training camp is to the NFL. And never more so than in Green Bay, where the Packers will once again prepare for the upcoming season amidst a fan-friendly environment.
Wednesday, the Packers released their 2004 training camp schedule, which includes 37 open-to-the-public practices that will take place on Clarke Hinkle Field, just across Oneida Street from Lambeau Field.
Practices will get under way July 30, with an afternoon practice for rookies and first-year players, before veterans join the action in coordination with the opening of the regular two-a-day schedule, August 2.
From that point on, morning practices generally begin at 8:45 a.m. and run until 11:15 a.m. Meanwhile, afternoon practices generally begin at either 2:15 p.m. or 2:45 p.m.
In addition to those public practices, the upcoming training camp will include the return of the popular Packers Family Night scrimmage, presented by Fox 11, which will be held August 7 inside Lambeau Field (Click here to purchase tickets.).
Training camp practices will take the Packers up through their final preseason contest against the Tennessee Titans, September 3.
For fans wanting to come out and see the Packers up close, the 2004 training camp experience offers more than just a shot at standing along the fence at Clarke Hinkle Field along with the rest of the 'Railbirds.'
Fully operational within the Lambeau Field Atrium is Curly's Pub, along with the Hall of Fame Grill, Frozen In Time Ice Cream and four Atrium eateries - Chili John's Cafe, Brett Favre's Two Minute Grill, the Meat Packing Co. and Fratello's Presto.
Meanwhile, the Packers Hall of Fame and Lambeau Field stadium tours have returned after their forced hiatus due to the stadium renovation project.
And the Packers Pro Shop continues to provide fans with an unrivaled selection of Packers merchandise, both through their 6,500-square-foot main store and the Packers Pro Shop Extra Points store, the latter of which includes exclusive Curly's Pub and Packers Hall of Fame products.
But for many fans, the thrill of training camp will come in a simpler form, like the time-honored tradition of players riding to and from the practice field on youngsters' bicycles, or the autograph tables (limited availability) after many morning practices.
During training camp the Packers will have some closed practices inside Lambeau Field as they hold walk-throughs in preparation for preseason games. Otherwise, the Packers will only close practice if inclement weather or poor field conditions push the team indoors to the Don Hutson Center.
Of course, the training camp schedule is subject to change, so Packers fans should check back to Packers.com for any schedule updates.
2004 Training Camp At A Glance:
July 29: Rookies and First-Year Players report to camp
July 30: Rookies and First-Year Players debut (2:30 p.m.)
August 1: Veterans report to camp
August 2: Veterans join practices/full-squad two-a-days begin (8:45 a.m., 2:45 p.m.)
37 - Number of practices open to the public (weather and field conditions permitting)
18 - Number of morning practices
19 - Number of afternoon practices
21 - Number of pads practices (13 in the morning)
5 - Number of special teams practices