GREEN BAY – The best summation of Matt LaFleur’s first offseason program in Green Bay might go something like this.
The Packers’ new head coach is pleased but hardly satisfied.
“I think you always want more,” LaFleur said after Wednesday’s minicamp workout regarding how much the team progressed over the last two months, particularly in regard to the new offensive system. “Even when they’re handling it well, you still want more. So, I think we’re coming together.”
Wednesday’s practice, which was moved inside the Don Hutson Center due to weather, would appear to be the Packers’ last on-field workout of the spring. Pressed on whether there’s a team-building activity scheduled for Thursday to wrap things up, LaFleur coyly deflected the questions, but his tone suggested he has something planned the players don’t yet know about.
LaFleur characterized some of the minicamp work as sloppy, and he noted in the two-minute drills at the end of each practice, the defense showed it was definitely ahead of the offense.
Neither observation is unexpected given the team’s circumstances, with defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in his second season and LaFleur in his first with the offense. LaFleur put it on the coaching staff to set a higher standard in practice later this summer, to get things looking more smooth and crisp.
When training camp starts July 25, both sides of the ball will go back to reviewing the playbook installations that have been conducted this spring. Repetition is key to not only committing more to memory but also picking up more of the little things that can easily get glossed over in the earlier stages of the learning process.
The Packers practiced inside the Don Hutson Center on Wednesday for Day 2 of mandatory minicamp.
“I think you always restart. You hit the reset button every time,” LaFleur said. “It just gives them another opportunity. You can’t hear the information enough because when something is new, you can’t possibly expect everybody to get every single detail. So you’ve got to review it over and over and over. And I think every time you hear it as a player, coach, whatever, there’s a new detail that you can retain and really think about.”
Training camp will feature two joint practices with the Houston Texans leading up to their preseason meeting at Lambeau Field on Aug. 8. Having been involved in joint practices with other teams before, LaFleur said the “competitive spirit” of those workouts will be different from the rest of camp.
They’ll add another element to the evaluation of players as well, providing practice film against opposing players rather than just teammates.
“It’ll be a good change of scenery, a different style, both offensively and defensively,” LaFleur said. “It just creates some new challenges, and that’s what it is week in and week out in the NFL.”
The first few days of training camp will look like OTAs and minicamp with only shorts and helmets, per CBA rules, before the players dress in full pads. The teaching and learning environment of the spring carries over to camp as well, but with an uptick in pace and intensity.
To put it mildly, LaFleur is eager and excited to get there.
“I think you’re constantly learning whether you’re first year in the offense or fifth year in the offense,” LaFleur said. “We all know that when it gets to training camp, that’s when the live bullets start to come at you, so to speak. And it’s just going to be good to see these guys in live action and with those preseason games and with the pads on.
“Like I told you guys yesterday, I love the character of this team. I think these guys are working hard. But I still think there’s a ways to go and I’m looking forward to getting these guys back in training camp and seeing where we can go with this thing.”