Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and Ray Lewis are among several players who have organized informal practices to fill the void left by the lockout’s ban on organized team activities and minicamps.
The Green Bay Packers, who were supposed to hold their rookie minicamp this weekend, have held no such practices. However, starting guard Josh Sitton said upon conclusion of the Tailgate Tour on Saturday night at Green Bay East High School, “We’ve talked a little bit about actually getting together. I don’t really know when, but we’ll see.”
Without the lockout, most teams would have started organized team activities, which are voluntary but been well-attended during coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure. Because of the Super Bowl pushing the Packers’ season to the first week of February, McCarthy — who stresses the value of offseason attendance about as much as any coach in the league — had scheduled the rookie camp for this weekend, with four weeks of OTAs to start a week or two later.
Instead, all of that is on hold because of the labor strife, and instead of the team gathering in Green Bay for practices and classroom work, the players remain at homes scattered across the country.
Quarterback Matt Flynn said he has been throwing to college and professional receivers at his alma mater, LSU. Linebacker Desmond Bishop has been working out with teammates Brandon Chillar, Brett Swain, Jarrett Bush and Charlie Peprah in San Diego. Those workouts haven’t included anything football-specific, he said.
“Not unless we get back (to work),” Bishop said when asked if they’d start football drills at some point. “I think that workout stuff is mostly for the offense — quarterbacks getting their timing with the receivers. We’re more reactive. We just kind of go to the ball. We’re getting ready physically.”
Maybe it’s just as well that the Packers have been having a low-key offseason. Twenty teams had their seasons end on Jan. 2. The Packers, on the other hand, came out on top of six consecutive must-win games spanning Dec. 26 to Feb. 6. With a veteran team returning, few starting jobs up for grabs and relative stability in the coaching staff, Green Bay is arguably the big winner in the lockout.
“I think we have a little bit of an advantage since we had a long, extended run in the playoffs,” team President Mark Murphy told Packer Report on Saturday night. “Normally, when you win the Super Bowl, you have two home games and then you play in the Super Bowl. For us, we had an extra game, extra preparation. We know our players are in and out. I don’t think there are lot here in this area. But, that’s something they have to decide on their own.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.