By JASON WILDE
GREEN BAY – The lockout isn’t officially over, but the Green Bay Packers are making plans to get back to work.
Two club sources confirmed Monday evening a report by ProFootballTalk.com that the defending Super Bowl champions have notified players to be ready to show up at Lambeau Field this weekend.
According to the two club sources, the players have been told to be ready to report to the facility for a meeting on Saturday. Players have been told that the doors at 1265 Lombardi Ave., which have been shuttered since the lockout began on March 11 – save for the brief lifting of the lockout during the draft – will open on Friday. The team will then have a meeting on Saturday in advance of training camp, which is scheduled to open on Saturday, July 30.
Three other players contacted Monday night said they had yet to hear from the team about a meeting, while safety Jarrett Bush said on his Twitter account that he had not received a call, either. But both sources re-confirmed that the calls had been made, and later Monday night another player said that he had been contacted by a member of the personnel staff. That player was asked if he needed help making travel arrangements to arrive in town on Friday in advance of Saturday's meeting.
Technically, teams are not supposed to have any contact with players while the lockout is still ongoing, but if the Packers violated that rule to inform the players of Saturday’s meeting, they’re likely not the only ones to do so.
One source suggested that teams may have been given permission by the league to begin planning their return to work, including allowing for brief contact with players about logistics.
The NFL owners and NFL Players Association have made significant progress in their negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement, with some observers predicting a handshake agreement could be in place as early as Tuesday.
The Packers players, especially quarterback Aaron Rodgers, have absorbed some criticism during the offseason for not putting together any player-organized workouts during the lockout. But a source said coach Mike McCarthy advised his players before the lockout began that he believed the risk outweighed any reward of such workouts and that he was OK with them not organizing practices.
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