The hustle and bustle around Lambeau Field means one thing. Football is back.
The Green Bay Packers kicked off training camp Saturday, and it could not have come at a better time.
Last season, several injuries hampered many star players, most notably quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Despite Rodgers' absence for half the season, the team still managed to win the NFC North.
As the gates at Ray Nitschke field opened, there was a certain air of excitement.
Rodgers was all smiles. His return to the offense, and his returned mobility excited the crowd.
But the biggest news on opening day was that Rodgers gets to throw to receiver Jordy Nelson for a few more seasons.
"He was really happy," Rodgers said. "Now he can buy all the land in Kansas."
The wide receiver signed a 4-year contract extension, worth $39 million. Nelson is also coming off one of his most successful seasons, compiling over 1,300 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns.
"Obviously it's something everyone wants to get done," Nelson said. "Especially like I said, a while back at training camp... my wife and I are excited to be here and hopefully we'll be able to finish this out and be done."
"I'm very happy," Rodgers said. "It's fun to see guys like that who are incredible teammates, phenomenal players, good guys, [get] rewarded."
Star outside linebacker Clay Matthews was also at full speed. His right thumb was protected by a minimal wrap, and his rehabilitation process has also been progressing.
"For the most part, it should continue to get stronger and surgically it's been enough time," Matthews said. "Now it's about putting it to the test."
As training camp progresses, head coach Mike McCarthy wants to see what Matthews can do with some contact.
"When you have an impact player, you want to create targeting problems," McCarthy said. "It's a lot easier from an offensive perspective if you know where the guys are going to line up everytime."
The defensive plan is to line Matthews and new teammate, Julius Peppers, up on different spots on the field. It's something the Packers have been working on in anticipation of their season opener against the defending Super Bowl champs, Seattle Seahawks, on Sept. 4.
The team's first full-pads practice is Monday.