The Green Bay Packers will be fully ready when each individual does their part. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Individual preparation may be all the Green Bay Packers need now

Green Bay Packers training camp moves into week three with the past week including a few players going down with serious injuries.

That’s because practice moved into full contact with live opponents firing away in game form. The Packers go under the microscope year-round now, with writers and commentators stripping apart each play, each movement, and each moment of every play. Then the stadium clears, and the team takes the rest of the night off until morning.

Having slept on the Packers vs. Tennessee Titans game, there are some things that seem ugly to look at and admit, but must be addressed if there is to be improvement.

Having slept on the Packers vs. Tennessee Titans game, there are some things that seem ugly to look at and admit, but must be addressed if there is to be improvement.

NFL football is the great American pastime now. The billions of dollars in revenue the NFL generates is mind boggling. Revenue is now generated from the construction of multi-level stadiums that feature everything from food courts, to banking, souvenir shoppes, and clothing, right down to the professional equipment. Team logos generate cash for teams, and Green Bay is on the high end of this income.

Together, with taxes and dollars spent from start to finished sales, the NFL generates more money than many small countries. Even some teams can compete with countries dollar-for-dollar. With that in mind, look at the effect of this game. How many lives does it affect?

It is quite a national treasure, keeping the economy moving along. We must respect the job the Packers’ front office has done not just today but over the last 90-some years, to keep this boat floating, and alive.

Green Bay Packer tight end Ryan Taylor (82) runs past linebacker Carl Bradford as the Packers train their bodies and minds in camp. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packer tight end Ryan Taylor (82) runs past linebacker Carl Bradford as the Packers train their bodies and minds in camp. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The closer we look, the more we see. In Green Bay, the particulars between the end of the 2013 season and the start of Training Camp seemed as if management went over every detail with a fine-tooth-comb, and there weren’t any apparent mistakes or managed problems that were not being addressed.

It seemed so “sweet” to have all the bases covered, and the talent disadvantaged areas of the team addressed through free agency and the draft. On paper, it all was so together.

Then the human element came into the picture.

A couple players out for the season, a huge blow to what was near the greatest offense of all time. The reality of putting it all together to win games is another project in and of itself the most difficult task the team needs to face. Most players are not going to attempt to overpower a teammate to the ground. But what else is there? It seems one huge factor has not been addressed.

It was an old standard I can remember hearing in the early 1970s as a high school student. The more we work you out and strengthen the various areas of your body, the less chances you will have of succumbing to serious injuries.

OK, let’s remember more.

There is no cure-all in the game of football to prevent injuries, but insurance companies have studied high impact sports and the events of injury in comparison to the amount of physical fitness standards the U.S. government had recommended in their standards back in those days.

Guess what?

This was a scientific set of testing, and it is a proven method of lessening the impact of serious injury (out for a few games to an entire season) and disability through injury. We just are seeing a league-leading tight end move into a total disability with Jermichael Finley, though he still says he can play. This is one of the most disturbing factors the NFL and Packers have to face.

I began noticing the trend of so many players going down during the first half of the season. it rattled my brain several seasons back, near the start of Coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure. No, I am not pointing the finger at the coach. I am pointing it straight at the players themselves. It is their responsibility to be in shape to play in the NFL – period.

But, this attitude, pushing blame on the player isn’t a total solution. Most players stay in great shape, which is a half-notch below game shape. And as things have changed in the NFL, the responsibility for maintaining physical fitness has slid onto the players’ laps more over the past few decades, as the mental aspect of the game, the plays and situational changes in personnel vary.

How the situation is handled on first and 5 compared to third and 5 to go for a first down, just as one example. Players must learn the defensive or offensive patterns of plays, in relationship to the situation. As coaches spend time explaining these things in walk through drills, it takes time away from the old methods of the famous Lombardi “two a days,” when the team went through two fitness and agility training procedures. That style of training has been removed altogether in most circumstances around the NFL, replaced by complicated systems.

No longer do we see a playbook of 40, 50, or more plays that need to be remembered. It has turned into down and distance situations, from where adjustments are made. On the offensive side of the ball, receivers for one are on a system with a route and change their position in accordance to where the defense plays. The quarterback and receiver must both be on the same slant for the ball to be in the correct place to be caught. All these things must be adsorbed before teams can move on into serious workouts.

Let’s keep in mind the new shift of attention to the mental changes in memorizing plays and the time teams need to make this mesh to mid-season form.

How did the Titans’ game look? To be completely honest, the Packers looked like a mess in that first preseason game. This is what pre-season is all about, some might say, but this is a professional team, and the errors we saw were mostly lapses in focus. These are the types of errors every training camp is about, and it will cure itself in time, except for the fact that the twenty-first-ranked Titans cleared up much of those errors in the second half, but Green Bay did not.

Is Mike McCarthy doing enough to keep his players in tip-top shape? Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Is Mike McCarthy doing enough to keep his players in tip-top shape?
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Maybe Tennessee practiced more as a unit, or had it preached over and over more than the Mike McCarthy system? It seems every year, for the first three or four games the Packers offense is trying to get in sync. Some of that might be due to new people not knowing the system well enough, as it is a complicated system. So, the team may need to add on plays each week, while starting off with fewer plays. Adjustments can make things tick from the first game on. If things are too much, back them off, and if things aren’t enough in a different circumstances pick up the pace.

The adjustment I speak of in the Packers game seems to be that there just isn’t enough physical conditioning.

As I have said, 40 or 50 years ago conditioning was more a part of the practices. With the new CBA guiding today’s practice regimen, there seems to be less conditioning and more memorizing of plays and adjustments within plays.

Then there are the tendencies of opponents.

We all have heard the old stories about the guy who watched films every night after practice and on off-days, as well as in the off-season. He’d go in to see how each opponent reacted to different situations. He saw him line up one way and on a run play he’d do one small thing differently each time. That’s the extra effort that makes teams that can do special things game-after-game.

The same is in effect for those players who take care of themselves by sating in playing condition and building the strength necessary to win. One thing that has not changed is the old saying, “Games are won in the trenches.” The fighting between linemen is either won or lost between them. Those who dominate in the trenches give the skill players a chance to go the distance.

That one goes all the way back to before the Lombardi era, where excellence was redesigned. While the game might have changed to ‘why not pass if passing plays produce more yards per play.’ But with today’s runners being faster, stronger and with a higher level of excellence, the game has been redesigned once again. We see one man with less than 4 percent body fat beating every opponent he faces, and right next to him we see something like 20 percent body fat along with muscle but he is not as effective as the rock hard guy next to him.

How can this be?

The guy with the lower body fat and more muscle works out more and trims his food intake to produce muscle through a low fat high protein diet with tons of natural carbs in real, unprocessed grains, along with real veggies and fruits.

Low carbs and no processed sugars (impossible, yes) but shoot for lower, and the high proteins natural foods bring will help the workouts get the best results for muscle building and strength that gives the player effectiveness in dominating his man.

I feel this is the one thing this Packers team will need to make it to the trophy and bring it on home.

The rest has already been done by the management of this team.

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