After an offseason of virtual meetings and individual workouts, the NFL is letting teams return to practice fields with protocols and guidelines enforced. The league announced the dates for rookie minicamp, organized team activities (OTAs), and mandatory minicamp for all 32 teams.
Last year, rookies may have struggled with the transition because of the absent minicamp. It is an important process to ease the transition for first-year players, giving them an initial taste of professional life. Atlanta will bring in the nine players drafted and an additional 20 undrafted free agents — on top of that, a maximum of five tryout players and five qualifying veterans from May 14-16.
Rookie minicamp is the first test these young players receive, as they are evaluated for how much information they can retain over a short period of time. During the first day, they will go through medical processes, equipment fittings, strength and conditioning testing, and nutrition information. Then will have meetings with Arthur Smith and positional coaches for the rest of the day. Following that, the group of players will go through a regular day in the team’s life, beginning with meetings and then a 90-minute practice — mostly limited to small-group work and one-on-ones.
After rookie minicamp, the participation could be limited as workouts aren’t mandatory, and many players have already made it clear they won’t be attending in-person workouts. On-field work begins the Monday after minicamp until Friday, May 21, but it is limited to non-contact drills — similar to Pro Bowl practice.
Saturday through Monday, OTAs will begin, and the team may conduct in-person meetings under COVID-19 protocols. Atlanta can conduct ten of such days, and then mandatory minicamp begins Tuesday, June 8. This is around the time the Training Camp dates will likely be released.
Rookie minicamp: May 14 through May 16
On-field work: May 17 through Friday
Meetings/OTAs: May 22 through Monday
Mandatory minicamp: June 8 through Thursday
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