Indianapolis Colts players have returned to the city for the first time in months to begin the off-season program. Like the photo for this story, the players will embark on baby steps toward more formal parts of their off-season training this week with a strength and conditioning program. As has been announced previously, Andrew Luck is expected to be in attendance and participating with the rest of his team during this time.
We can refer to the NFL Players Association website to get a better understanding of what the players will be doing during each phase of the program. The most important general program rules are:
Workouts are strictly voluntary; Club officials cannot indicate workouts are anything other than voluntary
Maximum 4 w/o per week (no weekends), with one week being the mandatory minicamp (not permitted on weekends)
Contact work is prohibited in all workouts (e.g. “live” blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run, etc.)
Intensity and tempo of drills should be at a level conducive to learning, with player safty as the highest priority.
From these rules it is clear that fans should not expect every Colts player to be in attendance. Some players prefer to work out on their own near their homes or with trainers they have worked with during the offseason for much of their careers. This tends to be particularly true with veterans who might target specific areas of their body.
The next couple of weeks will include only strength and conditioning activities and will be directly by only strength and conditioning coaches.
Two weeks | Limited to strength and conditioning activities (“dead ball”); only strength and conditioning coaches allowed on field
90 minute max on the field
Clubs can only specify 2 hours for players to be at the facility
Players choose the other 2 hours for weights, etc.
This portion will last from April 9-April 23. It will provide new team members with an opportunity to get to know teammates and to become more familiar with the Colts overhauled strength and conditioning staff. As the description indicates, the demands on each player’s time is still relatively low.
The next phase of the off-season program, voluntary minicamp, will be conducted from April 24-26. This portion is strategically situated right before the 2018 NFL Draft. It also allows for position and head coaches to join players on the field and begin play level work.
All coaches allowed on the field
Individual and “perfect play” drills allowed
No offense vs. defense, no one - on - one, no helmets
This should give coaches a final chance to assess where they stand as a roster, get a look at any surprises from a conditioning or health perspective, and to have a final opportunity to prepare for the decisions they have to make during the draft.
Once the draft is over, it will be a few weeks before team activities resume. They will come back together for the OTA portion of the off-season program. The Colts have scheduled OTAs for the following dates: May 22-24, May 30-31, June 1, and June 7-8.
4 weeks total
3 weeks for 10 total OTA’s
A maximum of 3 OTA’s each week for the first 2 weeks
During Weeks 1 & 2 a 4th non OTA workout is allowed but phase two rules apply
A maximum of 4 OTA’s for the 3rd or 4th week
One week for mini camp
No pads except protective knee and elbow pads, helmets are permitted
No live contact
7 on 7, 9 on 7 and 11 on 11 drills will be permitted provided no live contact takes place
The OTA portion allows the coaching staff and front office to gauge the team’s strengths and weaknesses and begin formulating the observations they will carry into training camp. These workouts allow for contact but no live plays and tackling. OTAs culminate in the final off-season activity before all team reconvene for training camp. Mandatory minicamp will be held from June 12-14.
Physicals on Monday but no practice
Practices Tuesday-Thursday, with a day off on friday
Allowed two practices totaling 3 ½ Hours on the field per day
Second practice limited to walk through activities only
Even during the mandatory minicamp, teams will be limited in terms of how aggressive they can be with players. As with the other OTAs, players will be in helmets only and will not go live contact at any point. Position coaches will be able to get a close-up look at their player groups and can run them through a gauntlet of drills that are aimed to hone muscle memory and technique, while also uncovering areas for players to focus when they go back home to train on their own before training camp.
Make no doubt about it, football is still a long ways off but this week marks the official beginning of player preparation for the upcoming season.