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The league
Posted at 01:21 PM ET, 06/07/2011

Plenty to gain from player organized workouts

In a normal offseason, teams start scheduling their minicamps and organized team activities (OTAs) shortly after the April draft. The labor agreement, back when owners and players still had one, said that each team could have up to 14 voluntary OTAs. But they might have been voluntary in name only, as they typically had near perfect attendance.

The players rarely grumbled, but they probably didn’t want to be there. So when Reggie Bush accidentally tweeted the truth and said he was enjoying his vacation, he’s probably writing the same thing many players are thinking. He did walk back from his original tweet, but when players are not required to report to player organized workouts, you can see that many players are not interested.

As ESPN’s John Clayton pointed out, many teams from warmer climates are more likely to have players with offseason homes nearby, and should have an easier time organizing a big turnout. Lions WR Nate Burleson was thinking along the same lines, but his tweet came across as a dig at the city of Detroit. And for every team like the Saints, who had 37 players attend their workouts, there are other teams who strike out.

The most notable workout dud was the one organized by the Minnesota Vikings. Their top receivers were invited to workout with rookie QB Christian Ponder, but they declined the invitation. The Green Bay Packers offensive lineman had a workout, but the workout was organized by one of their agents, and it felt staged.

A real beneficiary to these workouts are the receivers and their quarterbacks who can work on their timing. While Drew Brees has apparently had a successful workout, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers admits it's very difficult to get him and his teammates together. Maybe they were able to arrange a workout time when they met for Donald Driver's charity softball game. Their head coach, Mike McCarthy, certainly sees some value in workouts to help with “team building” and “developing as a group.”

Arguably the most unusual player workout is "Camp Alex" which is being organized by QB Alex Smith and his former 49er teammates. While his rights still technically remain with the 49ers, the former No. 1 overall draft pick should be a free agent and the 49ers drafted his likely replacement (Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick). But new head coach Jim Harbaugh was quick to give Smith a playbook during the brief moment when the lockout was lifted. And that might make perfect sense for the 49ers, who are looking to get a head start on their new offense to be installed this season.

Meanwhile a veteran team like the Giants isn’t too concerned since they’ll be running the same offense and defense they had last season, though QB Eli Manning has made a point of organizing workouts anyway.

Maybe that’s all that can be taken from these workouts: the players will get what they can out of it. But it’s not likely to make or break the season for any team.

By Brandon Benson  |  01:21 PM ET, 06/07/2011

Tags:  NFL Labor, Brandon Benson

 
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