Limiting injuries to be point of emphasis at Packers camp

BY foxsports • July 25, 2013

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- As coach Mike McCarthy evaluated the results of the Green Bay Packers' training camps in recent years, there's been one major red flag: Injuries.

McCarthy identified several ways in which he's hoping to keep players healthier this year, including his decision to have more morning practices.

"We have building blocks in our program and one of them is availability and accountability, and we have not hit the target on availability two out of the last three years," McCarthy said Thursday. "It's definitely a point of emphasis. Most of it is really just the way it goes. Some injuries can't be avoided. Sometimes you have good years and sometimes not so good years, so we're doing everything we can.

"Trust me, we've looked at everything involved in our program. You'll see some things on our practice field that will show that we've made some adjustments and we're doing everything we can to address it."

Nine of the Packers' first 10 training camp practices will begin at 8:20 a.m. In 2012, McCarthy ended the morning schedule after six practices and shifted to a nighttime routine.

"If you look at our regular-season schedule, one of the strengths, I've always felt, particularly when you're dealing with group dynamics, is get 'em up early," McCarthy said. "Get your heavy lifting done in the morning. And so we were always doing that in-season. I felt over the years it was really helpful and I thought our continuity in-season is probably one of the strengths of our program and just how we really go about our business.

"The a.m. practice schedule is definitely one of those topics that I feel will help us as a football team as far as battling potential fatigue injuries; what every team is threatened by in a training camp schedule."

McCarthy was not happy with last year's training camp, saying Thursday that he "didn't feel we had the rhythm and timing as a team coming out of training camp that we had in prior years."

All of McCarthy's reasoning came back to injuries. Last year, wide receiver Greg Jennings got a serious concussion, cornerback Davon House suffered a shoulder injury that later required surgery and linebacker Desmond Bishop had a season-ending torn hamstring, among other injuries.

"I have all the confidence that we will do a better job being healthier," McCarthy said. "There's certain stress points in the camp, particularly how many days you practice in a row and what you do in those particular days. You may notice the changes, you may not. We probably have about six or seven adjustments that we'll discuss with the team on how we approach training camp and I'm confident it will help us be a healthier team, which gives you a chance to practice and gain the consistency and conformity that you want coming out of training camp."

McCarthy, like all current NFL coaches, isn't able to do as much work with the team during training camp as what used to be normal. With the restrictions in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, there are significantly fewer practices now than in 1993 when McCarthy first began coaching in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"I think everybody understands it's a totally different era of training your football team," McCarthy said. "There's clearly a lot less information in today's camps than there was back in ‘93. I can remember Marty Schottenheimer going two-a-days in pads, I think 14 days in a row or 15. You had all the information you needed about each and every player if he fit the role or the profile of what you were looking for in your football team. We've continued to go the other way here in my time here.

"We've reduced the number of team reps again this year. We're finding different, safer ways to try to train our football team. The impact of the offseason program is huge and the development of your team. Obviously, the CBA has put structure and guidelines on how much and even how in some places you can train your team. It's really two different environments."

The Packers have their first training camp practice of the season Friday morning and will also practice Saturday and Sunday morning.

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