As of this past Friday, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) in Green Bay are over. The only part of the offseason program that's left is minicamp, held this upcoming Tuesday through Thursday.
"Minicamp is a continuation of what we're doing in OTAs," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "The reality of it, it's mandatory versus voluntary."
Tuesday is the first of just three days all offseason that players are contractually obligated to attend practice. If they choose not to participate—such as Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is reportedly considering in Seattle—they are subject to fine.
For the Packers, however, they don't have to worry about having someone holding out: 100 percent of players have attended at least part of the voluntary portion of the offseason, according to reports.
To the organization's credit, they incentivize attendance, being among the NFL's leaders in workout bonuses. Essentially, they're paying a portion of their roster to work out at team facilities in April, May and June.
Considering there's no shortage of more attractive locales to train—translation: better weather—than Green Bay, Wis., it's a smart decision.
"I think that's really important," said quarterback Aaron Rodgers. "Since Mike has been here, we've been a team with usually really good attendance in the offseason. Part of that is the contracts. They put some 'likely to be earned' money in there as a workout bonus, which—although I would be a 100-percent guy, most guys in here would be when you have money to be earned like that—that's no excuse to miss it.
"But when you care about the leadership opportunities here as well, whether you're a young guy or a veteran guy, it's great to be here and put in the time. The joke is it's voluntary mandatory workouts, but this is the time when you can really get better, and I think guys make the most of those opportunities."
Rodgers makes a point. For a majority of players, attendance during OTAs, individual position workouts and strength and conditioning portions of the offseason program is not really voluntary.
Those players that are on the fence, that have never played in an NFL regular-season game or played only sparingly, they can't afford to take off so much as a single practice. Many of them would be cut in an instant.
Not that there aren't exceptions. Just as in any profession, life circumstances sometimes find a way to interfere.
Defensive lineman Jerel Worthy was absent from two practices after his grandmother died.
Tight end Colt Lyerla and defensive lineman B.J. Raji both missed an OTA practice for unspecified reasons. As a matter of policy, McCarthy declines to discuss player attendance during the voluntary portion of the offseason.
In the case of Lyerla, McCarthy did say he was aware of the rookie's absence and expected him back the next day. It's unlikely Lyerla was simply playing hooky.
When minicamp begins on Tuesday, the Packers will have their final "install" portion of the offseason, according to McCarthy.
And when that happens, all 90 players on the Packers roster are expected to be in attendance not just because they're obligated to be there but because they want to be there.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
Photo: Packers wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson take part in an offseason practice by Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports.
- Like Like
- 5 points