They're ready. The Packers have a ways to go before they're ready to play a regular season game, but they're more than ready to play a game that doesn't count. The 2013 Pre-Season opens at Lambeau as the Pack welcomes the Arizona Cardinals for a 7:00 PM kickoff. The last of the 8:20 AM training camp practices was held today and Head Coach Mike McCarthy had the guys take the pads off. It was helmets and shorts for the 1:45 workout. There was a lot of jog through work against Arizona formations and it got a bit too lackadasical for McCarthy's liking. Halfway through practice, McCarthy gathered the team in a circle and lit into them pretty good. The final team periods, red zone work for the offense and defense, was a lot crisper. 16 players were not taking part, another very high number. Added to the list was T.J. Lang who injured his back in a collission on Wednesday. Lane Taylor was excused by the coach. After the intramural scuffles Wednesday, Thursday's practice was more tame as the team is anxious to hit someone other than a teammate.
McCarthy said after practice he wants to play every able bodied player in uniform. It's the first game and he promised every player they'd get an opportunity and he wants to hold himself to that. All four quarterbacks are slated to take snaps, including Vince Young who has practiced only three days with the team. Meetings Thursday night and Friday morning will determine which of the injured players will dress, don't expect many of them to play. With Lang hurting, Bryan Bulaga headed for surgery, and J.C. Tretter still on crutches from his pre-camp injury, the offensive line will be taxed. Only 9 may dress and the top flight starters like Josh Sitton and Marshall Newhouse may only see limited action.
The rookies are understandably excited. I talked with several draft picks like Johnathan Franklin and Micah Hyde after practice and they can't wait for their first "real" game as a pro. Another pick, seventh rounder Sam Barrington was a bit more measured and actually quite thoughtful about making his professional debut:
Audio: Rookie Linebacker Sam Barrington
The Cardinals are coming with a new regime, longtime Pittsburgh Steeler offensive coordinator Bruce Ariens, last year's interm coach for "Chuck Strong" Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis, is the new head coach, getting his first crack at running his own club. Arizona also traded for Carson Palmer, looking for their first productive quarterback since Kurt Warner. McCarthy said playing a team installing a new system will ensure his offense and defense will encounter plenty of unscouted looks which may lead to some chaotic looking play but it will pay dividends later on. I'll have a final preview and specfic things to look for on my next post tomorrow morning.