It’s not often there is a sell out for a football practice at a stadium that holds over 80,000 people. I mean, in the well-known words of the great Allen Iverson, “We’re talking about practice.” But on Saturday night, in front of a sold out Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers conducted their yearly Family Night practice. For the 17th time in the Packers’ illustrious history, fans swarmed into Lambeau Field to watch stars like Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Clay Matthews and company run around the field for two hours. Throughout the two hours, the Packers run a normal practice for all to see. From special teams work to individual position drills, fans watch as Rodgers and McCarthy get the team ready for what is expected to be another successful season.
Football is not the only thing that takes place on Family Night. Once practice is completed, fans prepare for the grand finale of the night, fireworks! While music plays, fireworks get lit from the top of Lambeau Field and shot all around the stadium for all to see. Family Night is not just a night for fans to come out and watch the Packers practice, but for the Packers to say thanks for the support that the fans have given over the years.
While Family Night is a spectacle for all to see, there were still some ups and downs from the practice. During the two-minute drill, Rodgers attempted a hand-off to fullback Aaron Ripkowski, but Dean Lowry shot the gap and forced a fumble in which Clay Matthews recovered and ended the drill. Dean Lowry has had a great camp so far for the Packers and is someone pegged for a breakout season on the defensive line. Also, Richard Rodgers continue to shine this training camp. With the backups running the two-minute offense, Richard Rodgers ran a seam route and got lost in the middle of the field as Brett Hundley threw a perfect ball. Rodgers made the big catch-and-run that would later lead to a touchdown. Even though the Packers signed tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, it has been Richard Rodgers who has had the best training camp amongst the group as McCarthy said, “this has been Rodgers’ best training camp yet.” Lastly, the Packers field goal unit looked down right awful. As they ended the practice kicking field goals, usually sure-footed Mason Crosby made just 5-of-11, missing multiple from 40 yards out. Special Teams Coach Ron Zook has said that the unit is a work in progress as the Packers have a new long snapper in Derek Hart and a new holder in Punter Josh Vogel. It is still early and the Packers still have time to get it right, so as Zook said, there is no reason for alarm bells right now.
Even though practice ended on a sour note, the fireworks were able to get the crowd going again and end Family Night on a high note. Family Night in Green Bay isn’t about just football or the fireworks, but about a community where the fans come out to support the beloved Packers and for the Packers to give back to the fans.