Hot Corner: Packers open training camp at Ray Nitschke Field
By Rich Palzewic
ASHWAUBENON – Oh, what a joy it is.
Yes, the Green Bay Packers are back to training practice in front of hundreds of fans.
I was lucky enough to attend the team’s second day of camp, along with a plethora of other media members and fans Thursday, July 29, at Ray Nitschke Field.
Parking in the Lambeau Field parking lot about 9:30 a.m., I meandered into Ray Nitschke Field, picked up my credentials and patiently waited for the players to arrive.
Unlike years past, when thousands of people lined the barriers to get close-up views of the players picking a youngster’s bike and riding it to practice, this year, because of COVID-19, the team provided the bikes.
It took some of the steam out of the excitement, but the fans were still happy to see their heroes riding/walking to practice.
I positioned myself right inside Ray Nitschke Field where the players entered.
I snapped plenty of good pictures, including a jovial Aaron Jones riding an undersized bike with a huge smile on his face.
A highlight was seeing Cole Van Lanen, a 2016 Bay Port graduate and offensive lineman, walk past me.
I know Van Lanen from his days in a Pirates uniform, but I took the professional road and simply took photos of him – I didn’t say his name or try to get his attention.
Van Lanen was an undrafted free agent of the team following the 2021 NFL Draft after having a stellar career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The Packers have always given undrafted rookies a legitimate shot at making the roster, so I like Van Lanen’s chances.
Of course, the big news during the offseason was the status of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
He was at practice throwing rockets like normal, and it appeared he was on good terms with his teammates, laughing and joking around.
I was glad to see him out there slinging it around.
Attending a training camp practice and getting quality photos/videos is rather difficult with all the COVID-19 protocols in place.
Like years past, members of the media can only shoot during specific times.
Unfortunately, those times are usually during drills and stretching.
The organization doesn’t allow you to take pictures/videos when the offense/defense is working on specific plays.
I surmise the team doesn’t want things leaking out for other teams to use.
After shooting photos for about an hour, it was time to pack up my gear and download the photos.
That’s always an exciting time – checking to see if I got any worthwhile pictures.
I managed to snap a few good ones, ones you can check out on page 22 of this week’s edition of The Press Times.
I won’t attend practice every day, but when James Morgan, a 2015 Ashwaubenon High School graduate and current member of the New York Jets, comes to town for some joint practices and a preseason game Aug. 21 against the Packers, I’ll get credentials.
The excitement of a new season is special – even more so this year without having training camp a year ago because of COVID-19.
As always, thanks for reading.