Green Bay Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien hands the ball off to running back Eddie Lacy during minicamp practice Thursday at Ray Nitschke Field. / H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media
Packers coach Mike McCarthy gave veterans entering at least their sixth year in the league the final minicamp practice off.
The 16 players excused from the final session were quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn, cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Jarrett Bush, fullback John Kuhn, guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, linebackers Clay Matthews, A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones, receiver Jordy Nelson, defensive linemen B.J. Raji, Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion, place-kicker Mason Crosby and long snapper Brett Goode.
Although the number of offseason practices has been reduced since the new collective bargaining agreement was signed three years ago, McCarthy had no qualms about giving the veterans extra time off.
“Today’s practice was exactly what we look for,” said McCarthy. “A lot of younger players got a lot of reps today that did not have the opportunity in the other practices. I mean (quarterback) Scott Tolzien got a lot better today. I knew that when I walked off the field. That’s what you want in these types of practices.”
McCarthy called off Wednesday’s practice and replaced it with a team-bonding bowling outing.
“Group dynamics is a part of growing your culture, I believe that, and so that’s why we do the group dynamic activities,” McCarthy said.
“It’s just the interaction in a different place because once again this is about relationship building.”
GALLERY: Packers minicamp practice
*Defensive lineman Jerel Worthy (knee), linebacker Nick Perry (foot), tight end Andrew Quarless, receiver Chris Harper and cornerback Jumal Rolle attended practice but didn’t participate. When asked about the status of linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb), Worthy and Perry, McCarthy said he is hoping they will be ready to practice by the start of training camp on July 26.
“We’ll see how the physical goes when they get back,” McCarthy said. “I’m hopeful, but we’ll see.”
*Eddie Lacy, who rushed 284 times last season, wouldn’t mind getting a similar workload this year. “The number of carries, it really doesn’t matter to me,” Lacy said. “I’ll take whatever they’re willing to give me. Like I said, every opportunity means a lot. I’m going to run the ball as if it’s my last play, and whether it’s 300 or 250, whatever the number is, I’m going to give every carry everything I have.”
*Micah Hyde has made an early impression switching from cornerback to safety. “Micah Hyde looks very comfortable as far as all the different responsibility he’s been asked to do,” McCarthy said. “I thought he had an excellent spring. The area of communication, which is a lot of his new responsibility in what he’s asked to do back there at safety and being able to move around, I thought Micah did a heck of a job this offseason.”
*McCarthy said it will be good for players to get away from football for a little while.
“Sometimes I think we forget the stress of being a professional athlete that they go through, so being around your family and stepping away I think is very healthy,” he said. “Professionally, they have a 24-hour responsibility. That’s part of being a Green Bay Packer, that’s part of being in the National Football League. So they need to adhere to that 24-hour responsibility and make sure they take care of the things that they need to take care of.”
*Tolzien looked sharp at times during his expanded practice reps on Thursday, and had red-zone touchdown passes to Jared Abbrederis and Brandon Bostick. “I think when you get extended reps it helps you get in a rhythm … so you appreciate those opportunities and are always trying to make the most of them,” Tolzien said.
*The Packers are expected to announce their training camp practice schedule soon. Players are set to report on July 25 and begin practice the next day.
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