The Packers canceled Wednesday’s minicamp practice and media availability and instead took part in a team-building activity – clay pigeon shooting at Little Creek Lodge in Little Suamico, Wis., which is about 20 minutes outside of Green Bay.
Receiver Greg Jennings first tweeted about it: “Out clay shooting with the team. Don’t know how safe this is but it beats practicing.”
The Packers have done this sort of thing before, to help break up the monotony of longer, eight-day minicamps.
In 2000, former coach Mike Sherman loaded players on a bus and took them to a local bowling alley. In 2001, it was a golf outing. In 2002, paintball. And in 2003, it was a return trip to the local lanes for bowling. In 2005, he ended practice after an hour for a game of dodgeball.
Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang updated everyone with the shooting event with this tweet: “Well nobody got shot today.”
And that’s the most important thing. Sherman’s outings weren’t always so lucky.
“We played paintball one year and I think (Darren) Sharper fell out of a tree,” Sherman said in 2005. “We’ve done bowling and guys have hurt their backs and balls changed lanes so (dodgeball) might have been the safest exercise.”
The Green Bay Packers‘ team reporter, Mike Spofford from Packers.com,covered the event and reported that players and coaches were divided up into groups of six and rotated through the venue’s different shooting stations, which featured clay targets fired in various directions and from different distances. Some stations included an elevated shooting platform.
“It’s definitely an event that generates a lot of testosterone,” head coach Mike McCarthy told Packers.com. “We just wanted to change it up. We have a number of guys who are avid hunters, and we have guys who have never shot a gun.
“We just wanted to do something different to get them away from Lambeau.”
Linebacker Frank Zombo, one of the avid hunters, told Packers.com he can usually hit about 85% but was a tad off that pace through his first two stations, going 6 for 8.
“I hunt quite a bit so I’d say I’m a pretty good shot,” said Zombo.
“Before college, I’d go hunting and shoot clay pigeons once in a while, but I haven’t shot a shotgun in maybe eight years,” receiver Jordy Nelson told Packers.com.
In addition to doing some shooting of his own, McCarthy was making the rounds and said he hadn’t seen safety Charlie Peprah miss yet.
Receiver Donald Driver also impressed the coach, and linebacker Vic So’oto went 4 for 4 in one round with McCarthy looking on.
While other coaches around the league have voiced concerns about the limited number of practices allowed under the new collective bargaining agreement, McCarthy felt giving up a day on the field was well worth it for the off-the-field benefits.
“Team-building and team dynamics is definitely one of the priorities of the off-season,” he said. “You don’t have an opportunity to take a step back and enjoy time away from the field, because everybody is so focused on the job.”
The final minicamp practice will be today at 10:45 a.m. at Ray Nitschke Field and will be open to the public.