Offseason training activities (OTAs) aren't particularly thrilling. More than anything, it's about new players and rookies learning how to practice under new coaches with different teammates. When players report for training camp at the end of the summer, the competition for roster spots will really heat up.
But the NFL hype train rolls on anyway with reports about how players look in the unpadded practices. Things like a strict media policy in Buffalo and weird weather research in Tampa Bay grab headlines in May because there really just isn't much else going on.
So when players choose to miss OTAs, it grabs attention, especially when it's out of solidarity for a teammate. But other than that, OTAs are mostly nothing but positivity:
Everything is awesome
After free agency and the NFL Draft, almost every team is able to tell its fans that they improved the squad from the year prior. The new additions will definitely take the team to the playoffs and the players that were already on the roster have improved and are ready to have their best season ever.
In a practice report on Washington's team site, the defense was described as "really strong," Kirk Cousins looked "sharp throughout," DeAngelo Hall "looked particularly agile," Matt Jones "executed a perfect spin move," and ... well ... you get the point.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who has struggled with multiple collarbone injuries, says that the last two months have been the best stretch he's had in a long time, and the Miami Dolphins are even complimenting Ryan Tannehill on the way he handles his business.
Even No. 1 pick Jared Goff is getting praised by Los Angeles Rams coaches, and the team's first practice hasn't even happened yet.
Everything is amazing, your team is Super Bowl-bound and the OTAs are proof.
Basically, the whole Jets offense is gone
Ryan Fitzpatrick is still a free agent, which means the quarterback situation for the New York Jets still isn't settled. It seems like a matter of time before the 33-year-old passer is back with the Jets, as contract talks are still ongoing. But the team is treading water until then with Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty taking snaps.
Those young quarterbacks don't have many targets to throw to or the same protection up front, though. Both Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall are sitting out, and the offensive line doesn't feature Nick Mangold handling snaps.
For Decker, the decision to sit out is a show of solidarity:
Eric Decker skipped OTAs this week because he is upset the organization has yet to sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, according to a source. #nyj— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) May 26, 2016
That's not the case for Marshall or Mangold, though.
Source said WR Brandon Marshall's absence from #Jets OTAs does not have to do with Ryan Fitzpatrick. "No story."— Jason Cole (@JasonColeBR) May 26, 2016
Nick Mangold's wife gave birth yesterday. Mangold hasn't participated in OTAs this week.— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) May 25, 2016
But shh ... nobody tell Todd Bowles why Decker isn't there:
Todd Bowles on Mangold, Marshall & Decker absent to show solidarity w/Fitz: "I don't think so. You'd have to ask them but I don't think so."— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) May 25, 2016
Decker and Marshall combined for 189 receptions, 2,529 yards and 26 of the 33 touchdown receptions hauled in by Jets receivers last season. Until they're out there on the practice field, it's not quite the real Jets offense taking reps. It's also a unit that no longer has D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Chris Ivory or Willie Colon, so Geno and co. are working with an offense that looks much different than the one that was on the field in 2015.
Reporters are annoying players
The thirst for NFL news from fans keeps reporters working all year long, but there isn't much to talk about in May. Sometimes that means the questions players get are repetitive and, eventually, get tiresome to keep answering.
In Buffalo, the solution to annoying sports writers was to bar them from saying anything substantial about the Bills. The new media policy has since been decried as ridiculous, and the media in Buffalo has continued to report on practices just as they always did, except now with a healthy dose of sarcasm and mocking tones.
But in every other media market, things have rolled on as usual, with questions that are getting on players' nerves:
Kirk Cousins on contract: "I’ve gotten the question 47 times. I’m positive, very confident, when something gets done, you’ll be notified."— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) May 25, 2016
Matthew Stafford, when asked how long it took him to turn the page after Calvin's retirement: "Apparently, a lot quicker than you guys."— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) May 26, 2016
Give them a break, fellas. What else is there to talk about this time of year?