The Green Bay Packers opened training camp last week, but the first several days were devoted to coronavirus testing. Rookies were in over the weekend and held their first walk through. The teams veterans finally arrive today (Monday), the sixth day of training camp.
With veterans arriving, there’s another walk through scheduled for today, along with weight lifting and conditioning. It’ll be two weeks before the team gets its first padded practice.
There’ll be no preseason games ahead of the September 13th opener at Minnesota, which means coach Matt LaFleur will have to get creative in the way he prepares his team.
LaFleur told reporters in a zoom call on Sunday that he anticipates more live-scrimmage scenarios, trying to replicate situations that players could encounter during games. LaFleur said some of those scrimmage situations will come inside Lambeau Field.
The Packers will start with a splitsquad format, meaning rookies and injured players working in one group and veterans in another. That scenario allows the Packers to have as many as 90 players in camp before having to cut down to 80 on August 16. The Packers roster currently stands at 83 players, not including four that are on the COVID-19 list.
Inside Lambeau Field, the Packers are having to move meetings to larger spaces. Even the media auditorium is currently housing offensive line gatherings. It’s all about keeping the players as safe as possible.
But the Packers can do everything in their power to keep players safe while at work. How they handle themselves when they leave work will go a long way towards the NFL starting and making it to the end.
“I think around here,” GM Brian Gutekunst said, “we’ve always put the reliability, the dependability factor as a major part of our evaluation process, and this year more so than any. For us to accomplish the things we want to accomplish this season, guys are going to have to make the right choices when they leave the building. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve always believed football is the ultimate team game, and this year more so than ever. It’s going to be dependent on how each one of us, not just the players but everybody in our building, makes good choices when they leave the building.
“At the same time, we’re going to have positive tests. This virus that we’re dealing with, we’re going to have that, and it’s not going to always be, just because someone gets it, be their fault. So the dependability, the availability of players, the teams that do that and overcome that and rise to the challenge are going to be the ones who are left standing.”
Could Packers isolate QB’s
During a zoom call with reporters on Sunday, Packers coach Matt LaFleur admitted that he’s considering extra precautions to insulate his quarterbacks in an effort to protect them from the coronavirus and even possibly employing a quarantine backup, who isn’t around the team as much, having that player available just in case.
“We’ve floated around that idea a little bit,” LaFleur said. “Have not made a decision on that at this point, but that’s certainly something that’s not out of the realm.”
Rodgers is our man
It didn’t take long for a reporter to ask Matt LaFleur about just how long Aaron Rodgers might remain the Packers starting quarterback after the team traded up to draft Jordan Love, Rodgers eventual replacement.
“I think right now, most importantly, Aaron’s our quarterback,” LaFleur said. “And I see him here for a really long time. And however long that is, I don’t think anybody knows. Nothing’s guaranteed in this league. But I feel so lucky to be able to work with him on a daily basis. I don’t see that changing for a really long time.”
Tramon Williams future in Green Bay?
Tramon Williams is still a free agent and while GM Brian Gutekunst was very complementary towards the former Packers defensive back, he didn’t seem to be considering Williams for one more season in Green Bay.
“As far as Tramon goes, I have great respect for Tramon, what he’s done here,” Gutekunst said. “We’re certainly very aware of where he is. No updates at this time, but I have a lot of respect for Tramon and what he brings to the table.”
AUDIO: GM Brian Gutekunst on preventing the spread of COVID-19 :18
AUDIO: Matt LaFleur will be firm with his players about the way they need to conduct themselves away from work :22
AUDIO: Matt LaFleur on QB Aaron Rodgers :16