GREEN BAY – Aaron Jones had an idea the Packers’ last day of minicamp might be different when the coaches scrapped the usual special-teams period at the start of practice.
However, it wasn’t until the final horn sounded roughly 30 minutes in that his suspicion was confirmed.
“When Coach said, ‘Bring it up,’ I’m like, ‘Whoa, already?’” the Packers rookie running back said.
It wasn’t the shortened practice that was unusual. It’s something the Packers and Head Coach Mike McCarthy have done before to send players off into their summer.
What really surprised players was the sight of the equipment and nutrition staff carrying cartons of eggs onto the field after the first of two team huddles broke apart.
Offensive and defensive players were then directed to pair up with someone on the opposite side of the ball. The team then used the final 10 minutes of practice doing an egg-tossing competition that eventually stretched across a good chunk of Clarke Hinkle Field.
Starting five yards from one another, teammates and coaches began lobbing eggs back and forth until only one team was left standing. Jones and his partner, rookie defensive lineman Montravius Adams, had a good showing, but didn’t crack the final four.
In the end, linebacker Jordan Tripp caught a throw from roughly 50 yards away from coaching administrator Omar Young to outlast the teams of Jason Spriggs and Aaron Taylor, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Kalif Phillips, and Justin Vogel and Cody Heiman for the title.
“Hey, you’ve got to have soft hands,” said Tripp of their winning strategy. “I had a good guy throwing it, so we’re good.
“At the end, we threw it up and let it splat on the ground just to prove to everybody that we just had soft hands.”
After the competition ended, the team then got together for one last huddle – a Gatorade bath for McCarthy – and then thanked the fans in attendance before beginning their break.
The Packers are big on creating opportunities to build chemistry, conducting their annual team-building event before the veterans were excused last week.
Thursday’s egg-catching exercise was a fun way for the younger players on the roster to end camp in their own special way.
“It was a good cherry on top,” Tripp said. “Coach is really in tune with what’s going on. It was nice to catch a bone like that. You can only do those things when we all come together and take care of business every day. Ultimately, that’s what it is. We’ve got to come back ready to roll.”
Linebacker Jayrone Elliott, who took pride in his “Sweet 16” finish with rookie receiver DeAngelo Yancey, previously participated in the competitions where you have to carry eggs on spoons, but actually tossing them was an entirely new idea.
Like many of his teammates, Elliott was on the receiving end of broken egg. At the same time, the fourth-year linebacker enjoyed the chance to step back from football for a few minutes, especially with temperatures hovering in the 80s.
“It’s always a big relief when you get out of practice on a very humid day – I’m going to thank coach for doing that,” Elliott said. “We’ve been hitting it hard for the last few weeks trying to get better as a whole team. To do different off-the-field activities to build chemistry is what it’s all about, honestly. We have a very young team and a lot of new parts on the team, so we have to find different ways to come together as one.”
The Packers return to Green Bay for training camp on July 26 with the first practice scheduled for the following day.
For Jones, he won’t soon forget the way his first NFL minicamp concluded.
“It ended in a fun way,” Jones said. “I know we have work when we come back, but that was definitely a good way to end it.”