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DE PERE, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers’ grounds crew holds off on giving the Lambeau Field turf a full paint job at midfield and in the end zones until the start of the regular season.
That bodes well for Green Bay to play what will now be its first preseason game Friday night, when it hosts the Cleveland Browns.
What was supposed to be a longer exhibition schedule for the Packers this summer was reduced from five to the usual four games in the wake of the cancellation of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday night.
The matchup between the Packers and the Indianapolis Colts never started because of a field deemed unsafe, brought on by a rushed and botchy paint job earlier in the day.
🖌 on the G for #FamilyNight! pic.twitter.com/2szweIVlWi
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) July 30, 2016
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who wasn’t going to play anyway, provided insight Tuesday as to how bad the newly laid Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium turf was at midfield and in the end zones.
Rodgers went out to the field a little more than three hours before the scheduled 8 p.m. kickoff Eastern time.
“I noticed right away the end zones were firm,” Rodgers said. “It was like a plastic consistency, and I was surprised by that. When I went out the second time … I could tell there was something going on.”
Rodgers agreed with the decision by Hall of Fame president David Baker, in consultation with the NFL and the players association, to cancel the game for the sake of player safety.
The two-time league MVP had an interesting take on the futile attempt by field workers to repair the field during what would have been pregame warm-ups for both teams.
“The substance they were trying to get the paint off with, I can promise you, was not health-conscious at all,” Rodgers said. “So I think they ultimately made the right decision.
“The tough part is you have so many fans there who paid money to be at the game, so that’s the disappointing part.”
Though fans, many of whom traveled a great distance, received a full refund on their game tickets, attorney Michael Avenatti plans to file a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and the Hall of Fame.
“It was just unfortunate the way they painted it; I guess, didn’t work out,” Rodgers said. “But Mr. Baker, he does a great job with the Hall of Fame stuff, and it’s just too bad because obviously we all wanted to kick off the NFL season right there, and unfortunately, we couldn’t do it.”
Rodgers and others with the Packers empathized with the fans’ not seeing what was supposed to be a nationally televised game.
“I was surprised,” cornerback Sam Shields said about the cancellation. “At first, I thought they were like playing around, but I guess they were serious.
“I don’t know who they’re going to blame (for the fiasco), but they were looking out for our safety, and that’s what they came up with. We’ve got to respect that.”
Head coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday the loss of Sunday’s game is a lost opportunity for many of the team’s younger players, including quarterbacks Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams.
Both undrafted rookies were slotted to split the entire game behind center with Callahan the starter as the Packers rested Rodgers and have top backup Brett Hundley sidelined indefinitely because of an ankle injury he sustained Aug. 1.
“You’re not going to get it back,” McCarthy said.
Though Rodgers is open to playing as much as a quarter Friday against the Browns, a decision by McCarthy won’t be made until later in the week.
Rodgers practiced Tuesday night after an extended layoff, and the team has its last open practice of the week Wednesday.
“It’s important to stay in tune with what’s best for your offense and also balance that with what’s best for Aaron,” McCarthy said. “We’re charting his reps, particularly his throwing. The five-day period of him being off (since last Thursday) was by design, so I feel good about where he is. He feels good.
“Really, the focus (in the preseason) is more on Brett Hundley and our two young guys. That’s the target we need to hit as far as giving those three men the opportunity and amount of work. I’m more worried about them three than I am about Aaron Rodgers.”