Minicamp not mandatory for all Packers; vets excused once again

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The word "mandatory" applies only to certain members of the Green Bay Packers when it comes to this week’s minicamp.

For the second year in a row, coach Mike McCarthy excused selected veterans from what is the only mandatory event of the offseason workout schedule, he said during an interview Monday on ESPN 540 Milwaukee radio at his charity golf outing to benefit American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.

Last year, any player with at least five years of NFL experience was given the week off. McCarthy will enact the same plan this year. In fact, it began last week for the final OTA practice.

“We had a practice [last Friday] with all the players under six years,” McCarthy said on ESPN 540 Milwaukee. “To me, Friday and these three practices in front of us are the most important practices of the offseason because the reps go up for everybody. You look for those first-, second-, third-, fourth-, fifth-year [players]; you look for guys to step up and take a little bit of a leadership role on the practice field. I think this is the second or third year we’ve done this, and I feel like we’ve gotten a lot of out of it. I’m looking forward to these three practices.”

By that measure, there will be 16 players who won’t participate in this week’s practices. They are: quarterback Aaron Rodgers, receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks plus offensive linemen Don Barclay, Bryan Bulaga and Jahri Evans on offense; safety Morgan Burnett, cornerback Davon House defensive linemen Mike Daniels, Ricky Jean Francois and Letroy Guion plus linebackers Nick Perry and Clay Matthews on defense; and kicker Mason Crosby.

So when the Packers hit the field on Tuesday for the final three days of their offseason program, the practices will look significantly different from most teams’ workouts this week. The next time anyone sees Rodgers & Co. on the field will be July 27, the first day of training camp practices in Green Bay.

McCarthy said earlier this offseason that the minicamp “is designed for our younger players.”

Last year, McCarthy said he did that because the Packers had an extra week of training camp since they were playing the Hall of Fame Game.

“Really, if you look at the veterans' workload as far as the nine-week offseason program, training camp and everything leading up to the beginning of this season, they're excused from three practices today, but they'll have four or five practices that first week,” McCarthy said last June. “So they'll actually still have the same amount of work or a little more than they would in a normal training camp.

"So that's the starting point. And then with that, playing an extra preseason game our young players are going to play a lot more. This gives us another four or five practices to get those young players ready to play in that game. That's really the baseline of the decision, and I thought it definitely was a win-win for everybody."

This year, however, the Packers will play only the traditional four preseason games.

It also will be the first look the Packers will get at their top draft pick, cornerback Kevin King. The 33rd overall pick was barred from participating in the offseason program because his college, the University of Washington, was still in session through last week. The Packers expect King to compete for one of the starting cornerback jobs. King had been trying to keep up remotely by holding video conference meetings with his position coach, Joe Whitt.

“It will be good to see him outside of FaceTiming,” McCarthy said.