Packers preparing for limited capacity at Lambeau Field this year

The inside of Lambeau Field could look very different if the NFL goes ahead with its season this fall.

Green Bay Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy wrote to season-ticket holders Thursday, telling them the club is planning to have fans in the stands but at a very reduced capacity due to the pandemic.

Here is the full letter:

The Packers are slated to go to training camp July 28.

AP: NFL to play Black anthem before national anthem

(AP) — “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” will be performed live or played before “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to each NFL game during Week 1 and the league is considering putting names of victims of police brutality on helmet decals or jersey patches, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press.

The person said the league is working collaboratively with players to recognize victims of systemic racism throughout the season in a variety of ways. The person spoke to the AP on Thursday on condition of anonymity because discussions between the league and the NFL Players Association are ongoing.

Additional plans include the use of educational programs and storytelling about the victims and their families similar to the league’s PSA on Botham Jean released in January and the Super Bowl commercial on Corey Jones featuring his cousin, former NFL star Anquan Boldin.

“Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” is traditionally known as the Black anthem. It’ll be played first when the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans to kick off the NFL regular season on Sept. 10.

It’s uncertain whether fans will be in attendance Week 1 or at all this season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league is considering asking fans to sign a waiver and wear masks, according to a person familiar with those conversations.

The NFL announced last month it is committing $250 million over 10 years to social justice initiatives, targeting what it calls “systemic racism” and supporting “the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African Americans.”

Following the nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell denounced racism in a video prompted greatly by a players’ video seeking NFL action.

NFL reportedly cutting preseason in half

The NFL is reportedly cutting the preseason schedule in half this year.

According to ProFootballTalk.com, the league has decided to do away with the first and fourth week of the preseason in an effort to limit travel, team interaction and give players more time to acclimate to playing the game after the offseason program was only virtual.

For the Green Bay Packers, that would mean games at home against Arizona on Aug. 15 and a game at Kansas City on Sept. 3 would not take place. It would leave the team hosting Cleveland on Aug. 22 and going to the New York Giants on Aug. 29 as their preseason games.

The move follows the league’s decision to cancel the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, normally the first preseason game of the summer. It also postponed the enshrinement of the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class to next summer.

The NFL is still planning on starting training camp on time with the Packers slated to report on July 28.

Pandemic forces Packers to make training camp changes

For the first time since 1958, St. Norbert College won’t be hosting the Green Bay Packers for training camp.

The team announced Wednesday that due to protocols put in place by the NFL, it will be utilizing facilities at Lambeau Field for all training camp activities, including practice, meals and meetings.

Players normally stay at on-campus residence halls and eat dinner at the De Pere college. The team said it is in the process of finalizing housing arrangements.

The move is not a surprise. The NFL told teams earlier this summer that due to the pandemic they would be forced to hold training camps at their in-season facilities to mitigate exposure to the coronavirus.

Training camps around the NFL are slated to open July 28.

Packers sign QB Jordan Love, RB AJ Dillon

The Green Bay Packers have their top two draft picks under contract.

The team announced Wednesday afternoon that first-round pick Jordan Love had signed his rookie deal and that second-round pick AJ Dillon had as well.

With those two signed, the Packers now have seven of their nine picks inked. Only third-round pick Josiah Deguara and fifth-round pick Kamal Martin remain unsigned.

Love’s selection was the surprise of the first round. Green Bay traded up to take the Utah State product with the 26th overall pick despite having future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers under contract for four more seasons. Love had a great 2018 season, throwing for 3,567 yards, 32 touchdowns and just six interceptions. But he regressed last year, tossing 20 touchdowns and 17 picks.

Dillon joins the club after an ultra productive career at Boston College where he ran for 4,382 yards and 38 touchdowns in three seasons. But he was also a surprise pick considering the Packers return the very productive backfield of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, though both can become free agents after the 2020 season.

https://twitter.com/ajdillon7/status/1278366712291868672

Green Bay is slated to go to training camp July 28.

No Lambeau Leaps this season

The Lambeau Leap has been a part of Green Bay Packers football since 1993. Every year since, players have leaped into the stands after scoring a touchdown. From Leroy Butler to Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers — all have done it. That won’t be the case this year.

As first reported by Sports Business Journal, the NFL will make the first six to eight rows in every stadium off limits to fans in an effort to avoid potentially exposing players and coaches to COVID-19.

There’s another reason, too. For the first time, teams will be able to sell camera-visible signage to local sponsors. So instead of fans being there to welcome players, there will likely be advertisements from the likes of American Family Insurance, Johnsonville and other familiar Wisconsin brands.

As for what the rest of the stands will look like, it remains unclear. The NFL will reportedly let individual teams and states decide how many fans will be allowed in.

The Packers are scheduled to report to training camp July 28.

Packers wrapping up offseason program this week

NFL teams are allowed to run their offseason programs through June 26, but the Green Bay Packers won’t do so.

Coach Matt LaFleur told Packers.com that this will be the final week. He said they held the final big team meeting on Monday with former Packers cornerback Charles Woodson giving the group what LaFleur called an “exceptional” speech. The rest of the week will be for review and then the team is off until training camp.

“These guys are pros,” LaFleur told the website of what he learned about his team having to go through the offseason program virtually. “I think it’s safe to say they’d all rather be in Green Bay, be in the building, be around each other, going out on the grass, competing on a daily basis, but it is what it is. We’ve got to make the best of it. I thought our guys did a really good job of taking advantage of that.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers certainly took advantage of it. QB coach and passing game coordinator Luke Getsy said last week that the veteran was in a great place and was a significant voice in how the offseason program played out.

“We had so many great conversations,” LaFleur said. “Really we were able to talk out, and talk through, every concept that we run, both in the run game and pass game. The expectations of every play. Certainly he’s got a lot of experience and we always want his input.”

LaFleur and Rodgers will be part of a team coming off a 13-3 season and a trip to the NFC title game. It was an unexpected run in LaFleur’s first year and it means fans will be wanting that and more this fall.

“Certainly we know that the 2020 season is going to come with some high expectations and our guys are going to embrace that and put their best foot forward,” LaFleur said.

Packers agree to deal with rookie OL Jon Runyan Jr.

Green Bay has signed another of its draft picks.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday that sixth-round pick Jon Runyan Jr. had agreed to his rookie contract.

Runyan was one of three offensive linemen picked by the Packers in the sixth-round of the draft. Guard Simon Stepaniak signed his contract earlier this week, while center Jake Hanson remains unsigned.

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Runyan started 25 games at Michigan and was named first-team All-Big Ten as a junior and senior. A left tackle in college, Runyan is likely to see time at guard with the Packers.

Runyan is the son of former All-Pro lineman Jon Runyan. He started 192 games over his career with Houston, Philadelphia and San Diego.

With Runyan’s deal in place, the Packers have signed four of their nine draft picks.

Packers players call for change, team will donate $250,000 to social justice reform

As teams across the sports landscape issue statements on equality and the end to police brutality in America, the Green Bay Packers have taken a different approach.

On its social media accounts Thursday morning, the team released a video featuring coach Matt LaFleur and numerous players, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, running back Aaron Jones, wide receiver Davante Adams and safety Adrian Amos.

In their own words, they said enough is enough and called for change.

Later in the day, team president Mark Murphy released a statement condemning the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the many more African-Americans killed violently in recent weeks. Murphy also pledged that the team, working with the players, would donate $250,000 to Wisconsin causes that support social justice and racial equality. He added that he and his wife, Laurie, would be donating an additional $250,000 to Wisconsin social justice groups.

Rodgers on players kneeling: ‘It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag’

In recent days, a number of high profile players in the NFL have given their support to the African-American community in the wake of the death of a black man, George Floyd, while being arrested by Minneapolis police. Some were vocal, while others, including Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, simply put a black background on their social media pages for #BlackOutTuesday. Rodgers has now gone a step further.

Hours after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees stirred up a hornets nest by saying he would never be OK with players kneeling during the national anthem because it is disrespectful to the flag and the military, Rodgers delivered a pointed response without actually naming Brees.

“A few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game,” Rodgers said in an Instagram post. “It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee during the anthem in 2016 in an effort to raise awareness about racism and police brutality facing African-Americans and people of color in America. He has not played in the league since.

This week, though, in the wake of Floyd’s death and the resulting peaceful protests and violent riots across the country, a number of high-profile members of the NFL community, including Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, have said they owed a lot to Kaepernick for essentially sacrificing himself for a cause he believed in.