GREEN BAY, Wis. – “Happy.”
That was rookie safety Darnell Savage’s response when asked how it felt to be back on a football field Friday.
Packers rookie minicamp commenced Friday and there were a lot of wide eyes among the first year players in Green Bay.
“Honestly just driving by Lambeau Field,” said rookie LB Ty Summers. “That was the moment where I was just like, wow.”
For others that “wow” moment came when they put the green and gold on for the first time.
“I just stared at it for probably like five minutes and realized I had to catch the bus,” said rookie outside linebacker Rashan Gary.
After months away from the gridiron, players like Gary got to return to what they do best, play football.
“It was amazing just to get out and strap on the Green Bay helmet and get out there with the other guys,” added rookie RB Dexter Williams. “I felt back in my zone.”
“It just feels good to play football again,” said Savage. “I have been training for 40’s and that kind of stuff for the past couple of months. So it just feels good to play football again.”
While this is just the starting line, some of these players will come in with expectations to produce as rookies. That includes first overall pick Rashan Gary who may face even more pressure after choosing to wear the No. 52 of departing franchise sack leader Clay Matthews.
“Five minus two equals three,” Gary said with a laugh Friday. “I wore #3 in college. Clay Matthews is a guy, I used to watch his game a lot. I’m a bigger type guy, but just watching what he used to do, his passion for the game, I loved it. As soon as I saw it was open I had to take it.”
While this minicamp is more about learning the Green Bay way and sharpening fundamentals, rookie head coach Matt LaFleur says he’s still looking for certain things not only from the 2019 draft class, but for undrafted free agents and tryout players as well.
“I just want to see guys compete, give good effort, strain and finish,” LaFleur said after practice. “Then if they have the skill-set that we are looking for at that particular position, their ability to showcase that gives them a great chance.”
LaFleur says these practices also give players a great chance to hit the ground running when the rest of the team returns to Green Bay.
“You want to be able to integrate these guys into phase two and into the drillwork right away because you don’t want to slow it down for your veterans. So they have to be ready to go.”