GREEN BAY – It’s a day Mike McCarthy looks forward to every year, a chance for the Green Bay Packers coach to introduce a whole new group of players to everything that, in his eyes, makes the franchise special.
The Packers will welcome their seven 2016 draft picks — defensive linemen Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry, tackles Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy, linebackers Kyler Fackrell and Blake Martinez and wide receiver Trevor Davis — plus a bevy of undrafted free agents and tryout players to their rookie orientation camp, which begins Thursday and runs through the weekend.
Players will arrive Thursday and undergo medical checks, attend myriad meetings and go through indoor practices at the Don Hutson Center.
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“The experience we’ll have as a coaching staff Thursday night, when they come in for the rookie orientation, it’s always one of the neatest days of the year,” said McCarthy, who will be entering his 11th season as Packers coach. “Just to get all the rookies in one room. You obviously have your draft picks, and we treat them all the same. Just the ‘wow’ factor that they go through.
“Some of the guys have been here already on visits. But just to get them all in one room and start the education of what our program is about, the expectations of them in the locker room, the culture that’s already here and, most importantly, operating in line with everything that’s done here at the Green Bay Packers.”
For most of the rookies, it will be their first opportunity to make an in-person impression on the Packers’ coaching staff. And not just on the practice field, McCarthy said.
“Evaluations are going on all the time,” McCarthy said. “When these young men come in here on these trips, the evaluation starts as soon as they get off the plane. When the director of security, Doug Collins, picks them up, he has an opinion. The people they interact with in the cafeteria, there’s an opinion there.
“Everybody is involved in that process. It’s all about gathering different information, creating the best opportunity for them and utilizing our resources to make them successful. Because at the end of the day, that’s how we become successful.”
The presence of the rookies should further energize the Packers’ offseason workouts, which quarterback Aaron Rodgers described to the media as “a fun time in the offseason” full of positive team interaction when they began April 18.
“I agree with Aaron, it’s a great vibe,” McCarthy said. “When you walked into the team meeting room there on Monday (the 18th) you would have thought we were preparing for a playoff game. It felt like they never left. And I think that says a lot about our players.
“They laugh at us as coaches when we tell them, ‘Hey, we missed you guys. It’s great to have you back.’ It’s not the same when they’re not here, because it isn’t. There’s so much energy in the building. It definitely has a very energetic vibe.”
Next up for the Packers after rookie camp will be OTA (organized team activities) days May 23-24, May 26, June 1-3 and June 6-9. Three sessions will be open to the public and media: May 24, June 2 and June 6. They will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Ray Nitschke Field (weather permitting).