Packers practice draws 66,397 fans at Lambeau
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers completed their first week of training camp under the lights at a packed Lambeau Field on Sunday night.
Coach Mike McCarthy put his team through a lively practice of about 90 minutes before a crowd of 66,397 in the team’s annual Family Night event.
The special practice at Lambeau, which concluded with a jersey giveaway for some fans and a fireworks display over the stadium, came one week before the Packers start preseason play.
"This is unique," McCarthy said. "We talked about it for the first-year players in our meetings, but until they experience it, you see the wide eyes and the excitement when they walk out there. But at the end of the day, it’s about playing football, whether you’re playing in front of six people or 67,000."
The Packers have a longer camp schedule this summer because they are playing the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 7, meeting the Indianapolis Colts in Canton, Ohio.
McCarthy values the Family Night practice for how it can simulate aspects of game day, especially in front of a familiar full house at Lambeau. The stadium had considerably more kids than usual in attendance Sunday for a festive evening tailored to families with a ticket price of just $10.
Green Bay’s rookies and other younger players soaked up their first experience in the noisy stadium.
Rookie linebacker Blake Martinez was in awe the entire night, from coming out to the field to loud cheers during warm-ups before practice until he left the field after the fireworks show.
"Oh, it was unbelievable," said Martinez, a fourth-round draft pick from Stanford who is competing for a starting job.
He couldn’t recall having more than 30 people attend open practices in his college days with the Cardinal.
The Packers had a few notable players standing on the sideline for the practice.
Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson, right guard T.J. Lang and center Corey Linsley are among six players on the physically unable to perform list. Nelson is recovering from a knee injury after he missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL in his other knee.
NOTE: More than 75,000 tickets had been distributed for the practice to make Family Night a sellout for the 10th time in the event’s 16 years at Lambeau Field.