The good news is the lockout is over and the regular season for the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers is going on as scheduled.
The bad news is the entire league, the Pack included, has to scramble to prepare rookies, free agents and any other newly acquired bodies with only a thimble-full of reps for these guys to work with.
Welcome to the Cliff’s Notes version of training camp and the preseason in 2011.
We are seeing a marked difference in some of the injuries.
You simply cannot mimic game conditions and contact working out on your own or with few of your teammates.
We are seeing it with top draft picks (like Derek Sherrod) struggling to pick up the speed of the game, the nuances and the girth of the playbooks these teams use these days.
It’s a little like going from playing Candyland to playing Risk in one jump.
No OTAs, no quarterback camp that Head Coach Mike McCarthy implements in a normal year to hone the skills and, more importantly, the mental aspect.
It’s the game between the ears that separates the winners from the losers a lot of the time.
Oh, by the way, no mini-camp and no plush, state-of-the-art workout facility at your beck and call.
So as the Packers work to pare down their roster from seemingly 177 down to the required 53, there is a lot of shorthand, nods, winks and flat-out guesses that these guys will be able to perform to a championship level.
And, as this team had to do way too much of last season…injuries to deal with, Mike Neal, Frank Zombo and Clay Matthews chief among them.
Week Three has Green Bay going to Indianapolis, site of Super Bowl XLVI, a team perennially in the hunt for the AFC crown.
The game is meaningless. But the player evaluations have never been more critical.
Playing time is something to take note of, but health is the ultimate goal.
The time constraint is even tougher on the champs because they start a few days early on the big stage of “Kickoff Thursday” at the hallowed ground that is Lambeau Field.
The stories that emerge from this game and the final home contest against Kansas City next Thursday, will be full of surprises.
There almost always is a surprise. I’d say Chastin West kind of came out of nowhere this year.
What will be more interesting to me is the breakdown of roster spots by position when it’s all said and done.
Tradition is out the window.
McCarthy could conceivably keep six tight ends, six wideouts and only one fullback.
That’s like a third of the roster dedicated to throwing the football. Green Bay usually uses a 60/40 pass to run ratio and that won’t tilt toward the running game anytime soon.
The Packers’ scheme will plug a tight end in at the line in lieu of a fullback.
And John Kuhn may take as many snaps at halfback as fullback anyway.
The teams that best deal with this abbreviated process will be packing their bags for Indy in February
Because the Super Bowl winners are more or less intact, They should be in the mix the whole season.
One last thing.
The more the national stories he’s not in and the more they misspell his name on video games and ignore Aaron Rodgers, the more he is determined to do something memorable.
It all contributes to keeping that chip on his shoulder. Long live the chip.