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Voluntary Practices End ... And Now The Mandatory Mini Camp Begins

From the last week in May until June 12th, the Packers had voluntary practices (OTA). Apparently it's voluntary in name only because everyone, except RB Ryan Grant who still hasn't signed a new contract, showed up. But that's the way they are treated around the NFL and rarely any players miss them. Some players are playing new positions, a lot of guys sit out with injuries, and it's really too hard to tell whether it means anything towards next season. I think it means little and what happens during the preseason games is what really decides whether guys make or miss the team.

Tom Pelissero does a good job telling some stories from the practices that are open to the public and reporters. It is good to read that 2006 3rd round pick LB Abdul Hodge is back on the field after missing all of 2007 with injuries. His injuries are still career threatening, but he still has a chance at fulfilling the potential he showed in 2006. One other item caught my eye:

DT Alfred Malone had another batted pass during team (11-on-11) drills, this week with Rodgers at QB. Malone is only (only?) 6-foot-4, but he seems to get his hands on a lot of balls.

Malone is a long shot to make the team, but the Packers have been good at developing defensive tackles, such as DT Johnny Jolly, who aren't great pass rushers but coached well on batting down passes.

Only a coach can probably tell the difference between a voluntary practice vs. mandatory minicamp, but Mike McCarthy changed his schedule this year to hold the minicamp later so more players are able, and better prepared, to participate in them:

We used [minicamp] as a cleanup of the OTAs, and this is the first year that I have ever been a part of this schedule. I think it is something that we'll look at when it is done like we always do, but it's a schedule that I prefer because it gives you a chance to really get more out of the mini-camp because April, right after the draft, you are only three or four weeks, or at the most five or six weeks into your offseason program. I don't know if it's in the best interest of your team to get out there and try to get something done. You've got players coming off of injuries or surgeries, and you have a draft class that is just trying to find their way from the classroom to the practice field. Just the progression of having the rookie orientation, getting the rookies ready to go, bringing those guys back, putting them into an OTA format where they can come in and learn what is going to be done that day in practice. Have one practice and build up to a mini-camp format where you have two practices in one day. I just think it makes more sense from a progression standpoint of teaching, and that's why we went to this new format. It looks like it is going to work out just fine.