LITTLE SUAMICO, Wis. – With the end of the offseason program in sight, Head Coach Mike McCarthy gave his team a break on Wednesday.
Instead of a second minicamp practice, the Packers traveled a roughly 20-minute drive north of Green Bay to Little Creek Lodge for a clay shooting excursion.
As in the past, the team-building event was a hit with the players, even if some were completely new to the sport.
“This is awesome. This is a great time to get out here with your teammates, really put football away for a day and just have fun with each other,” said veteran fullback John Kuhn, who claimed not to be very good despite hitting three of his first four shots.
“We worked really hard this offseason, so this is the time to kick it, have a good time, laugh, and make fun of each other for not being able to shoot a shotgun. It’s a lot of fun.”
Players were put in mixed groups of offensive and defensive players, veterans with younger guys, and some coaches sprinkled in. They headed out on the range in an army of golf carts, making their way through different shooting stations, staffed by police officers.
With a roster of 90 players from all walks of life, the players’ shooting abilities ran the gamut.
At one set of two adjacent stations, second-year receiver Jared Abbrederis had two clays fired simultaneously and hit both, twice at each spot. An avid hunter and Wisconsin native, Abbrederis looked right at home.
“I like to hunt everything – deer, turkey, whatever I can, I guess,” he said. “But I honestly haven’t shot skeet in a while.”
Word around the course was that offensive linemen Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang were pretty good shots, as were quarterback Aaron Rodgers and some of the coaches.
Others were clearly out of their element.
“I’m not accustomed to being in the woods,” said tight end Andrew Quarless, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. “I’m not from that type of lifestyle, but it’s definitely fun to get out here and challenge myself. I’m getting a little upset, missing a few, but I’ll get better.”
Some of the novices were picking it up quickly. Rookie cornerback and second-round draft pick Quinten Rollins was seen hitting two of six at one station and four of six at another.
“I’ve never done this before,” Rollins said. “I’ve been getting better throughout the day.”
It’s not a hobby of punter Tim Masthay’s, either, but he hit three of four at one station, chalking it up to simple “hand-eye coordination.”
“I didn’t grow up around this so guns make me a little nervous,” he said. “But these (officers) load them and take care of all that for us, so it’s a blast.”
The players have one more day of football this offseason, a final minicamp practice on Thursday, before a six-week break heading into training camp.
It’s a good bet their shooting percentages on Wednesday will be a big pre-practice topic in the locker room on Thursday before their final workout.
“It gives us a chance to do something away from work,” McCarthy said. “The guys really enjoy this environment. This is our third time out here, and it’s great every time we come out. We get a lot of positive feedback from the players.
“These are the kind of things you need to step away from the field once in a while and do.”
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