GREEN BAY, Wis. — There will be a lot of DeShone Kizer and Brett Hundley instead of Aaron Rodgers, plus plenty of reps for the Green Bay Packers‘ top two draft picks, cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson.
That’s how coach Mike McCarthy wants it for this week’s minicamp, which is why he excused Rodgers and 15 other selected veterans from the only “mandatory” practices of the offseason.
It’s the third straight offseason that McCarthy has let selected veterans start their summer early.
“They deserve it, where they are particularly in their career,” McCarthy said Tuesday before the first of three practices to conclude the offseason program. “And as we all know, the second part is there’s only so many reps that you can accomplish throughout the offseason. So really focused on the veterans there through the OTAs and now the focus will start, really with [last] Thursday’s practice and today’s practice, tomorrow and Thursday’s practice will be exclusively for our young players.
“This is a huge opportunity, and it’s really the same message I gave the players this morning and last Thursday is we’ve got to take a jump as a football team. You see it every year, young guys start to figure it out … but this is a great opportunity for our young players.”
The cutoff this year was players heading into their sixth season. That means in addition to Rodgers, those excused were: kicker Mason Crosby, receiver Randall Cobb, cornerback Davon House, cornerback Tramon Williams, linebacker Clay Matthews, linebacker Nick Perry, guard Lane Taylor, tackle David Bakhtiari, tackle Bryan Bulaga, tackle Byron Bell, tight end Jimmy Graham, tight end Lance Kendricks, tight end Marcedes Lewis, defensive tackle Mike Daniels and defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson.
All 16 of those players had been regular participants in the offseason program. Even players like Bulaga (knee), Taylor (ankle) Matthews (knee) and Perry (ankle), who did not practice because they were recovering from injuries, had been at Lambeau Field throughout the spring.
Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who skipped OTAs for what McCarthy termed “personal reasons” and missed the cutoff to be excused from minicamp by one year, was expected to attend this week’s camp.
Clinton-Dix has not yet given a public explanation for his absence.