“How’s everybody doing? C’mon!”
Those were Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy’s words as he addressed reporters following the official ending of the lockout on Monday.
The defending Super Bowl champions will report on Friday, with the first practice of training camp set for Saturday night. The facilities will be opened on Tuesday, though, and several rookies said they were en route.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the first two practices will be without pads and without contact. That means the first “live” training camp practice will be held on Monday. All practices, even the walkthroughs on Saturday and Sunday, will be open to the public.
“It’s a great day for the league,” Murphy said. “It’s a great day for the Packers. It was not an easy process. I think we’re all disappointed that it took so long to get the agreement and having such a long work stoppage, but at the end of the day, we’re all very pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with really minimal (disruptions).”
The full training camp schedule will be announced on Tuesday or Wednesday, the team said.
What would Lombardi say?
Legendary coach Vince Lombardi would be appalled.
Under the CBA, the meat-grinder of two-a-day practices is a thing of the past. Two practices can be held, but only one can be padded and with contact.
“Only one padded practice per day, limited to three hours, with the second practice up to the four-hour limit being a walk-through,” reads the CBA.
The change didn’t meet with any arguments from the Packers.
“I think from a players’ standpoint, the improvements in the areas of health and safety were pretty significant,” Murphy said. “You look at how (coach Mike McCarthy) has structured training c amps over the last couple of years, two-a-days have kind of become dinosaurs. Those of us that played through those, you think that’s the way football was meant to be played. But the game’s changed. There’s a lot more work throughout the offseason. Players come to training camp in shape.”
Preseason schedule of events
Straight from the CBA:
— Tuesday: Facilities open. Trading begins. At 10 a.m. EST, clubs may sign all rookies and negotiate with but not sign all other players.
"It’s going to be a very unique couple of weeks," Murphy said of the shotgun start to free agency and other signings.
— Thursday: At 4:01 p.m. EST, clubs may waive or terminate player contracts.
— Friday: At 6 p.m. EST, teams may renegotiate contracts, sign players (but those players may not receive any payments and they will be prohibited from physical activity until a CBA is ratified), and signed rookies may participate and have protection if injured.
— Thursday, Aug. 4: All teams’ must be under the cap of $120.375 million, with the figure based on a team’s 51 highest-paid players.
Family Night will be held, as scheduled, on Saturday night, Aug. 6. It will be a scaled-back version in terms of on-the-field activities. Rather than an offensive-vs.-defense scrimmage, the full-pads practice will be more like a typical training camp practice.
The events surrounding Family Night, however, will go on as usual. That means 20 practice-worn jerseys will be given in a random drawing and fireworks will cap the night. The practice begins at 6:30 p.m. but the event will start at 5:30 p.m. with pre-practice festivities.
Tickets are $10 and available at ticketmaster.com and Ticketmaster outlets, the Lambeau Field ticket office or over the phone at 1-800-745-3000. Unlike past years, there is no ticket limit. Parking, at $5, will benefit the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Program.
“Our cost is all the things around the actual game,” Murphy said. “We’re excited about it.”
— Murphy said “most” practices will be held in the evenings because they are so popular among fans (who have to work) and players (who get to beat the summer heat).
— Most, if not all, of the 10 draft picks will be in Green Bay on Tuesday. A couple of them Tweeted that they were on their way, including second-round pick Randall Cobb, third-round pick Alex Green and sixth-round pick Ricky Elmore. Mike Neal, a second-round pick last year, also is coming to Green Bay on Tuesday.
— Noting how busy President Barack Obama is with the debt crisis, Murphy wasn’t sure when or if the Packers would vsisit the White House. “I know personally I’m looking forward to seeing Charles Woodson and President Obama shake hands,” Murphy joked of the commander-and-chief and Bears fan.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.