GREEN BAY - Adhering to recent tradition, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy excused a group of veterans from this week’s three-day minicamp beginning Tuesday at Ray Nitschke Field. It marks the third straight year he has done so.
McCarthy told reporters Tuesday that 16 veterans, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, are exempt from camp and start their summers early.
“Well, the format for this camp is similar to the last couple of years and we have a vet-select opportunity,” McCarthy said. “Sixteen veterans that have been excused from the camp and that’s really twofold: They deserve it, where they are particularly in their career, and as we all know, the second part is there’s only so many reps that you can accomplish throughout the offseason.
“So really focused on the veterans there through the (organized team activities) and now the focus will … be exclusively for our young players. So this is a huge opportunity and it’s really the same message I gave the players this morning and last Thursday is we’ve got to take a jump as a football team. You see it every year, young guys start to figure it out.”
Besides Rodgers, the other 15 veterans who have the required experience (entering their sixth season or more) to skip the otherwise mandatory minicamp are receiver Randall Cobb, tight ends Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis and Lance Kendricks, offensive linemen David Bakhtiari, Bryan Bulaga, Lane Taylor and Byron Bell, defensive linemen Mike Daniels and Muhammad Wilkerson, linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House and kicker Mason Crosby.
McCarthy said he and his coaching staff work together to decide which veterans should be excused from minicamp each year.
“Each and every year we take a look at the roster,” McCarthy said. “But the other part of the focus, and really the focus for myself, is what goes on in these four practices for our young players.”
While the decision to excuse the veterans is nothing new, the decision remains an interesting one in an era when McCarthy and his staff lament the practice restrictions of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. The Packers’ coaches and players routinely discuss the importance of each rep given the scarcity of allotted practice time, and allowing the veterans to miss the mandatory minicamp could be viewed as increasing that strain.
McCarthy, though, doesn’t view it that way.
“Well, I think you’re looking at it from the other side of the spectrum,” McCarthy said. “We are maximizing the reps and tailoring them to the group that probably needs them more. So that’s the theory behind it. It works. We’ve seen the improvement just after evaluating our team and our players.
“There’s things that these young guys need, and the most important thing these guys need is they need team reps, they need the opportunity in the classroom to speak up. You’ve got to tailor the lesson plans to them. You always tailor to the youngest guy in the room, but it gives us an opportunity to really, really focus in on going back to the base instillations.”
» One Packers veteran who was on the practice field Tuesday was safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who did not participate in the OTAs for what McCarthy called a "personal" reason.
IF YOU GO
What: Packers' three-day minicamp, open to the public.
When: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Where: Ray Nitschke Field.
Note: Sessions will be moved inside the Don Hutson Center and closed to the public in the event of inclement weather.