With the beginning of organized team activities (or, OTAs for short), the 2013 campaign has officially begun for the Indianapolis Colts.
In the long-gone days of yester-year, training camp marked the official "beginning" of the seasons for players and fans alike. Not anymore. NFL football is a year round event, with only the month of June serving as a true offseason with little to no news or discussion points.
In case you aren't clear what OTAs are, they are team-controlled sessions that allow all players under contract to come to the Colts facilities and train together. This includes rookies. It's a time for veterans to bond with younger players, and for new players to soak up the culture and environment within the Colts organization. These sessions are voluntary. 11-on-11 drills can be organized, but contact drills or scrimmages at OTAs are verboten!
You'll notice I busted out my German accent just now, and that's because one new player who cannot participate in OTAs is first round pick Bjoern Werner. Werner is the only rookie drafted who is not signed to a contract.
Other rookies who are signed might have difficulty attending OTAs as well. Last year this time, rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and wideout LaVon Brazill missed OTAs because of college graduation requirements. This year, Luck and Brazill are expected at OTAs, along with free agent signings like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Ricky Jean Francois.
In fact, Jean Francois is already tweeting photos from OTAs.
The schedule for OTAs in Indianapolis is May 20-22, May 28-30, and June 3-6.