One of the best rookie camps in Mike McCarthy’s seven years as Packers head coach could offer immediate help for a team trying to get back to the Super Bowl.
“The way our program is designed tells you how we feel about young players,” McCarthy said when asked about a league-record number of starts by rookies last season. “We’ve been a draft-and-develop program going on year seven now. It’s a young man’s league, in my opinion. I think that’s a trend that potentially is only going to pick up, so it would not surprise me if you continue to see those numbers.”
The good news for Packers fans is a weekend-ending practice on Sunday that was praised by McCarthy.
“Today was our best practice. The tempo was the best we had of the three. I really felt the practice environment for the team as a whole got better through the weekend. That’s a credit to the players and a credit to our coaches. We actually finished a little ahead of schedule coming off the practice field today. I don’t think that’s ever happened for a rookie orientation camp. They were flying around today,” McCarthy said.
A three-day camp that included eight draft picks, 14 undrafted free agents and 29 tryout players, concluded with a late-morning workout in the Don Hutson Center. McCarthy and General Manager Ted Thompson immediately began the process of evaluating the tryout players for the purpose of offering some contracts.
“Ted Thompson and I met extensively this morning on the prospects we feel have the best opportunity to be on our 90,” McCarthy said.
Selected holdovers from last season, such as practice-squad wide receivers Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel, also participated in the weekend’s practices.
“Gurley and Borel stood out and that’s what you expect. It’s a camp that you don’t have a lot of contact. You look for their skill set, what they bring to the table, how they fit, the potential for a roster spot. There are definitely a few guys that’ll have a chance to stay,” McCarthy said of the receivers group in general.
“I don’t concern myself with (roster spots) in May. Create the competition and your roster will come to you. I don’t chase roster moves in May and June. I don’t ever try to pick the team this early.”
McCarthy also offered an update on three players coming off season-ending injuries sustained last season.
“Andrew (Quarless) will be challenged for training camp. Alex (Green) looks great. Derek Sherrod is really progressing. I’m hoping Derek and Alex will be ready for training camp, and Andrew, from a time table standpoint, is a question mark for training camp,” McCarthy said.
Quarless (tight end) and Green (running back) sustained knee injuries and underwent reconstructive surgery; Sherrod suffered a broken leg late in the season.
McCarthy sounded as though he favors taking four quarterbacks to training camp
“I did five one time; that’s too many. Four is a healthy number,” he said.
McCarthy welcomed the increase of the overall offseason roster size to 90.
“It definitely makes us a better football team in the arena of competition, and that’s what we’re looking for,” he said.
OTA (organized team activities) practices, which are voluntary, are to begin on May 22.