The first NFL regular season game for the 2014 Indianapolis Colts doesn't kickoff until about four-and-a-half months from now. However, the preparation leading up to that first game starts this week when voluntary training activities begin.
These are called O.T.A.s, or Organized Team Activities.
[Note: Actually, they're not called OTAs. OTAs begin in May. Yes, the differences between OTAs and voluntary workouts are confusing.]
The current labor agreement limits the amount of time players can be at a team facility during the offseason. While coaches and general managers continuously complain about these new rules, they are there for a reason. The reason the time a coach can spend with players is limited is because, four years ago, coaches were abusing their authority. Players feel that, if owners want them at the team facility in the offseason training, then the owners can pay them a bit more to be there. Perhaps even throw in some additional financial security in case a player gets injured during OTAs.
Owners didn't want to do that, and, thus, we have the system in place today.
Personally, I think it makes sense. Players do not have to train at a team facility to get better, and if coaches need more time in addition to OTAs, mini-camps, training camp, and preseason to teach players the nuances of their playbooks, then shorten the stupid playbooks.
This is football. Not long division.
Colts players and coaches can report to the team facility on Monday to begin offseason training. This is for anyone healthy enough to participate. It'll also be the first time since early last season that veterans like Reggie Wayne and Vick Ballard can train with the team. Both were lost last year to season-ending knee injuries.
It'll also be the first time quarterback Andrew Luck will get to spend time with his new receiver, Hakeem Nicks.
"He's a winner. He's a vet," Luck said. "He's a good football player. I'm excited about it."
Luck has been back in Indianapolis for at least a week after traveling the world, including a trek to England. Luck told the media last week he visited "either 6, 7, or 8" different countries since the Colts were ousted from the playoffs by the Patriots in January.
"I travel around a little," Luck said. "See the world. Why not?"
Free agent acquisition Arthur Jones will also get to spend some time learning Chuck Pagano's defense, which isn't too far removed from the scheme Jones played in at Baltimore. He tweeted yesterday:
Just like that....I'm back Indiana!!!! :-)— Arthur Jones (@Artj97) April 20, 2014
Jones joins fellow Colts free agent acquisition D'Qwell Jackson on a defense that struggled to stop the run in 2013.