Monday, May 21, 2012

What Are OTAs?

Yesterday, the Washington Redskins began their 10-day stretch of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). Which may lead many to think...what exactly are OTAs?

Organized Team Activities are basically the NFL's version of NCAA spring practice. For the next ten days, nine NFL teams, including the Redskins, will be implementing the early workings of their offenses and defenses.

Under the new CBA, there are restrictions and guidelines about how and when teams can practice.

As stated before, teams can only practice for ten straight days. Practices must be helmet only. Players are not allowed to wear shoulder/pant pads. And there are to be no full contact practices. It is strictly ten days of walk throughs and teaching.

OTAs are voluntary. Players and teams do not have to participate or conduct them. It is solely up to the coaches and ownership. Only nine teams are currently conducting OTAs.

For a team coming off of a bad season or that is in the rebuilding stage, OTAs can be very beneficial. It gives new players a chance to come in and get a leg up on the veterans that are not attending the practices. They will learn the playbook and even get reps with their new teammates.

For teams that are switching to a new defensive/offensive coordinator, this is also a chance for the players to begin to learn the new system. There is a lot of language and formations involved with each and every system and all are different. Learning them early will provide and added boost heading into training camp.

In the case of the Redskins, rookie Robert Griffin III has been declared the starting quarterback. The first time he ever saw the playbook was a few weeks ago. In the style of offense that the Redskins run, it is very complex and hard to learn just by reading the book.

For RG3, OTAs are an extremely important key to his success. If he focuses and takes them seriously, which he has, then when training camp arrives, he won't be making silly mistakes such as forgetting a signal and mistaking what a certain word or phrase means.

Organized Team Activities are an extremely important, and often underrated, part of the NFL year. A successful OTA program can ultimately lead to success in the regular season.

Follow me on Twitter @SkinnyOnSports and don't forget to look the blog up on Facebook: The Skinny on Sports!