TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27: Coach Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers speaks to the media at an introduction press conference at the team training facility January 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
1 Total Update since April 2, 2012
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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement signed by the NFL and NFLPA included some tweaks to the offseason program, which starts on Monday for teams with new head coaches. The overall theme of the changes is less activity and hitting for the players.
The offseason program can be broken down into three phases, as SB Nation Bay Area has detailed. Workouts will come during the week and no player can have more than four workouts in one week. Teams with new head coaches started workouts on Monday and teams with returning head coaches can start on April 16.
These are voluntary, outside of one mandatory minicamp the team can conduct.
Offseason workout programs for teams with new coaches can run for nine weeks within a 12-week period. The other teams have a 10-week window with which to get in nine weeks. The programs cannot exceed four days a week and must be conducted Monday through Friday. Offseason workout programs have three phases with different rules for each. They are based on strength and conditioning, individual instruction and organized team activities.
The first phase includes strength and conditioning, or injury rehab. Strength and conditioning coaches can work with the players on the field but regular coaches can not. This isn't a traditional practice as the only footballs allowed would come from quarterbacks throwing to uncovered receivers.
The next three weeks, which is the second phase, brings in coaches and on-field workouts. The coaches can conduct non-hitting practices and the players can not wear helmets. This is generally more about on-field instruction rather than any hitting.
The third phase, which covers the four weeks after that, is where Organized Team Activities (OTAs) comes in. This is closer to a traditional practice with helmets but players can not wear any pads.
So, really, this is all a string of light practices. The real practices, the ones that include hitting, will come in training camp, which starts in late July and early August for most teams.
Head over to SB Nation Bay Area for a good break down of the entire offseason program.