The play was crisp, the crowd was huge and only a few raindrops at the end of practice spoiled the opening day of the 2013 Green Bay Packers training camp on Ray Nitschke Field. Head Coach Mike McCarthy quickly said, "I liked the practice." afterward, adding, "I liked the tempo and the pace."
It was just over 2 hours long and it included three very odd breaks. TV timeouts, 2 minutes each, complete with music piped over the practice field's speaker system, will be a regular part of the sessions all summer. McCarthy said they serve a two-fold purpose, allowing players to cool down and regenerate their bodies. Secondly, the TV timeouts are a staple once regular season games kick off so they might as well get used to the breaks right away.
There were less than 80 players actually participating. Seven failed physicals upon their arrival Thursday and were placed on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list. They can come off that list whenever they are medically cleared to practice. The list includes several players coming off surgeries from a year ago like Derek Sherrod, Jerel Worthy and Sean Richardson. J.C. Tretter, the rookie offensive lineman from Cornell won't be available for a while after breaking his ankle during spring workouts. Also on the list is DuJuan Harris with a bad knee, he may miss the first week. Mike Neal and Chaz Powell round out the group. Neal strained an abdominal muscle working out on his own before camp opened. Casey Hayward didn't make the list, but didn't practice either with a hamstring pull. Davon House and Jamari Lattimore sat out with illness.
For the first time in his career, Mason Crosby has some kicking competition from free agent Giorgio Tavecchio from Cal. The coaching staff says there will be more field goal attempts throughout camp to determine a winner. In the first head to head matchup, Crosby hit four out of six tries, missing from 50 and 53 yards. Tavecchio made five out of six, missing only from 53. Stay tuned.
Among the draft choices, defensive back Micah Hyde of Iowa, getting extra reps without Hayward and House, made the most of his opportunities, getting his hands on a couple of passes and getting noticed by McCarthy after the practice.
The post practice scene was pretty wild. The media crowd was almost playoff-sized, crowding the locker room hallway door to rush in to surround Aaron Rodgers. Football wasn't on the press corps minds however as they couldn't wait to ask Aaron about his friend and business partner, Ryan Braun. The Milwaukee Brewers star was suspended Monday for the rest of the season for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy. Braun vehemently denied the accusations after a positive test at the end of the 2011 MVP season but admitted he made a mistake when the discipline was announced. Rodgers was to the point when asked for his reaction.
Several other players were asked to react to comments from Greg Jennings who questioned Rodgers' leadership while at his new team's headquarters in Minneapolis. Jordy Nelson said he was disappointed in Greg, the locker room remains tight and well led and they'll simply move on.
If day one was any indication, it's going to be a very interesting camp. The team works out Saturday morning in shells at 8:20 AM.