GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers can begin rinsing the bad taste of their season-ending playoff loss to the New York Giants out of their mouths starting on Monday, when the 2012 offseason program kicks off.
A year after the labor unrest between the NFL and NFL Players Association resulted in an offseason-erasing lockout, the new offseason rules set forth by the collective bargaining agreement are in effect, and they call for NFL teams to be able to begin their (allegedly) voluntary offseason workouts April 15.
The Packers will get to work on Monday, as coach Mike McCarthy outlined after the season and reiterated at the annual NFL Meetings last month.
And according to the Packers coach, this is a vital offseason for many of the team’s young players, who were robbed of an offseason program last year.
“You’ve got a couple of (draft) classes that have never been through an offseason program,” McCarthy said at The Breakers resort last month. “This is a big year for us. For the way we’re designed — we’re a draft-and-develop program — this is a big offseason for us. We need to make big jumps in April, May and June because we haven’t had that, just like everybody else, but we really rely on it just because of the way we operate in player acquisitions.”
In past years past, the offseason program would’ve started in mid-March. That would have meant individual position workouts, the oft-discussed McCarthy quarterback school and other strength and conditioning work.
Instead, in an effort to reduce the offseason burden on players, the programs for teams with returning head coaches start Monday. Teams with new coaching staffs were given a two-week head start.
In addition, the new CBA reduced the number of organized team activity practices allowed from 14 to 10, although McCarthy said he’s structured the practices so his team will get installed what it needs to on offense and defense.
“We’ll make up for what we need to do,” McCarthy said. “We’re playing with the same rules as everybody else, so it’s not like we’re at a disadvantage. It’s the philosophy that we’ve chosen. We haven’t chosen to be a veteran-driven team and bring in experienced players. We develop our players so the more time that we can have with them the better off we’ll be.”
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