It doesn't happen very often. The opening day of training camp is usually story enough as the Green Bay Packers take the field for the first time each summer, but today, the initial practice was overshadowed by the four year contract extension given to popular wide receiver Jordy Nelson. The veteran entering his 7th season with the Pack signed a deal that will keep him in a Packer uniform through 2018 and earn him a reported 39 million dollars, 11.5 million up front in a signing bonus and 14.2 million guaranteed. Three years ago, Nelson signed a very modest extension coming off his original rookie deal. He's been the most consistently productive receiver on the team since the Super Bowl season, with 85 receptions for 1314 yards last year, scoring 8 touchdowns. The year before he caught 15 TD's and has over 300 career catches for nearly 4600 yards.
Jordy formally signed the contract before the first practice of camp and told his fellow receivers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers the news on the field complete with smiles and high fives. After practice, the reaction to the new deal came from first, the man of the hour:
Audio: Jordy Nelson.
You can also hear the thoughts from his coach Mike McCarthy...
Audio: Mike McCarthy.
And from his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers....
Audio: Aaron Rodgers.
As for the rest of the camp's opening workout... It lasted about two hours and under CBA rules, in only shells (helmets, shorts and thin shoulder pads). Clay Matthews was a full participant coming off the pair of broken thumbs last year. He was excited to work with former Chicago Bear Julius Peppers for the first time. Micah Hyde got nearly all the first team reps at safety opposite Morgan Burnett. The tight end position had Brandon Bostick get some first team reps, as did rookie Richard Rodgers. Nelson, Kevin Dorsey and Davante Adams had impressive catches during team drills, tight end Colt Lyerla wasn't as fortunate with a noticeable drop.
Five players did not take part in the first practice. Mike Neal (core injuries), Letroy Guion (hamstring), Nick Perry (foot, knee), Jerel Worthy (low back) and Jeff Janis (illness). After practice, McCarthy said Neal and Perry are close to returning, it could still be some time for Worthy.
The opening day crowd of railbirds was sizeable, the bike brigade tradition took a big step forward with a ribbon cutting ceremony before practice. The Dream Drive was established for the promenade between the player's entrance and the practice fields across Oneida Street. It includes not only the kids who hook up with players on their two wheelers, but a handful of chariot bikes with bench seat for kids to ride along in.