GREEN BAY, Wis. — Outside of the Packers, few other NFL teams might be able to crowd more than 63,000 fans into a stadium to watch an NFL preseason practice.
Green Bay fans take advantage of any opportunity to watch their team at Lambeau Field.
Rookies and other newcomers to Titletown got their first chance on Saturday to take part in the annual “Family Night” practice. It resembles a typical training camp session, which is already well attended, except thousands more watch under the lights inside the stadium. The practice is even televised in Wisconsin.
It’s a summer football party with nearly everyone wearing green and gold.
“Going through the tunnel, I saw all the green and gold in front of me, I thought ‘Man, this is real,'” rookie cornerback Kevin King said. “Definitely a surreal feeling.”
This was the eighth preseason practice, and the final one of the installation period of camp. When players return on Monday, they will start preparing for the first preseason game on Thursday night against Philadelphia.
Among the highlights on Saturday night were the connections between the quarterbacks and a tight end corps that was bolstered in the offseason by free agent additions Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks. One of the holdovers at the position, fourth-year pro Richard Rodgers, had a highlight-reel catch after pulling in about a 40-yard pass down the middle in stride from Brett Hundley.
The backup quarterback to Aaron Rodgers, Hundley also impressed coach Mike McCarthy by leading the offense to a touchdown in a 2-minute drill toward the end of the nearly two hour-long practice.
“I thought (Hundley) kept scrapping, kept scrapping, that’s what you’ve got to do,” McCarthy said.
Dean Lowry, a second-year defensive lineman, had pressures on back-to-back plays. Rookie Malachi Dupre had a nice catch on a deep ball down the sideline from Rodgers during a drill, beating cornerback LaDarius Gunter for a touchdown.
And one of the biggest highlights might have been when Rodgers hugged McCarthy, in a moment caught on the video boards that drew cheers from the crowd. Fans nearly filled the stadium in spite of a thunderstorm that forced the start of practice to be delayed by about 15 minutes.
“I was just kind of surprised with the delay. But fans here are very loyal,” said Kendricks, who played in college at Wisconsin. “It was a cool experience, just to be out there on the field … I guess get used to the field before you get out there for the first preseason game.”
NOTES: DT Montravious Adams, a rookie drafted in the third round, said he hurt his left foot during the first preseason practice, an injury that required surgery. He had a cast on the foot and a scooter at his locker on Saturday. Adams said he didn’t know if he was going to be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’ve never really been injured so for me it’s kind of hard. I try not to think about it and do my rehab,” Adams said. … The team signed free agent tight end Emanuel Byrd and placed reserve cornerback Herb Waters (shoulder) on season-ending injured reserve. Byrd is an undrafted rookie who played two seasons at Marshall following two years at Georgia Military College. He was released by the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday.
More AP NFL: pro32.ap.org and twitter.com/AP_NFL