Some NFL players who will be trying to get ready for football season without the benefit of an offseason program have been there, done that. Anyone in the league nine years ago prepared for the 2011 season without OTAs or minicamps, due to the lockout.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, a rookie first-rounder in 2011, identified an important difference between then and now during a recent visit to the #PFTPM podcast.
“When you think about the two offseasons, obviously neither one had OTAs,” Watt said. “Neither one had workouts with the team. The biggest difference by far is the coronavirus situation and what that causes is back in 2011, we can still train at gyms. We can still get together. The veterans can teach me the playbook. We can run plays. We can do all that stuff. We haven’t really been able to do that this offseason because of everything that’s going on.
“I’m fortunate. I had a situation where I have a gym, I have a field, I can do all my workouts. There are some guys who live in a one-bedroom apartment [and] the apartment building shut down the gym, they don’t have a field to run on. There’s guys that are in different situations all around the league. Where in 2011, if you weren’t training, it was kind of your own fault because you had access to everything. This year it might be you’re not training because you just didn’t have access to it. I think that’s what having to deal with this ramp-up period and what it’s gonna take to get guys ready for the regular season is we got to first assess what everyone’s been able to do and where their body’s at because it’s much different for every guy.”
NFLPA president JC Tretter recently pointed out that, in 2011, players suffered a 25-percent increase in injury rates — with the opportunity to work out in a way that was normal.
“I think that’s the biggest concern from the player’s standpoint besides the obvious health concerns with COVID itself,” Watt said. “The injury rate and figuring out where guy’s bodies have been. Have they been running at full speed? Have they been cutting? Have they been making those high-impact moves that you have to make to play the game of football, which is where a lot of those injuries come from? I mean you look back at 2011 at some of those injuries — hamstring pulls, Achilles tears. Those are injuries that happen because you haven’t been able to do what you need to do at that highest level. This year with the circumstances we’re at, we just wanna make sure guys aren’t put in a compromised situation purely because we want to start on the set date.”
That’s one of the reasons why the NFLPA wants a 48-day training camp, with no preseason games. Beyond limiting the spread of the virus, the union wants to ensure that players gradually get into the kind of shape they’d be in, if there had been an offseason program.
There’s one big difference between 2011 and 2020, the years without OTA originally appeared on Pro Football Talk