Yearly Reminder Not to Overreact to NFL Practices!

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    Every year, NFL teams hold Organized Team Activities (OTAs) that typically start out as voluntary, which lead to involuntary practices. While these practices may seem like no big deal initially, one has to realize that these are the first official practices teams can hold in at least 3-4 months. For anyone who hasn’t played football on a serious level, getting into shape to play the sport is far from easy. With that in mind, athletes ought to be rusty, and/or not in ideal football shape; and there are certain things that an NFL fan shouldn’t overreact about.


    It’s no secret that injuries can derail one’s NFL career, and the common phrase “the best ability is availability” has good meaning. However, when you’re looking at one’s injury history, or see a report of an athlete getting injured, it’s important to note what the injury is. You may have heard the term “soft tissue injury” before. These are the injuries that are more preventable, but in contrast, it takes time to get in proper shape to prevent these injuries. In order to prevent these injuries, athletes must stretch, condition, work out, and take care of their bodies. While you’d hope these athletes come into OTA’s in great shape already, not every athlete will be ready for a variety of reasons, whether they’re at fault depends on the athlete because everyone’s body is different. Like I alluded to earlier, a reason for OTA’s being so important is because this is the first time in months teams get to take part in practices on an NFL level. With that, a huge focus on these practices is strength and conditioning, which directly correlates with injury prevention. So the next time you see your favorite team’s reporter saying an athlete is sitting out of practice because of an injury, remember that these athletes probably haven’t played football on this level in months, and might be susceptible to soft tissue injuries while they’re getting into proper shape. This is okay! They’re people too, they can’t prevent everything, and a big reason they’re at the OTA’s in the first place is to prevent future injuries during the season when it matters most.



    This one is probably more obvious to fans, but it’s not fair to hold an athlete’s play in OTA’s against him. As I mentioned a few times already, this is the first time in multiple months that these athletes have played football at a high level. They’re due for some rust, that’s why teams hold practices 3 months prior to the NFL season. These players need those 3 months to get to the level of football needed for their upcoming season.

    Another aspect, that applies mostly to Quarterbacks, is athletes testing out new things. You’ll often see coaches challenge their players throughout practices, throwing new offenses or defenses at them they might’ve not seen yet to see how they adapt to them. And in most cases, athletes won’t get it right the first time, or even second or third, and it surely shouldn’t get held against them, they’re only learning and getting better from it. Second, veteran players will test out their own abilities. This is the part that mostly applies to Quarterbacks. During practice is the best time for Quarterbacks to test out which throws they can make, find out where the holes in a defense are, see who they can trust, there are plenty of things they need to figure out before their games. Therefore, when you hear reports of Quarterbacks missing throws, or throwing interceptions, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    Don’t hold just Quarterbacks to this standard, all NFL athletes are testing out new things. Wide Receivers will test out the timing of routes, new releases, etc. Running Backs may test out new moves, pad levels, etc. The list goes on and on of what these athletes may test out in practice. And it’s definitely not a bad thing! They’re just trying to get better, and better players lead to better football for all of us to watch.

    It’s easy to pick on NFL players, it’s natural to do so, regardless of how unwarranted it may be. Realistically, most fans don’t have room to talk, they aren’t elite athletes putting their bodies on the line. We should all be thankful for these athletes and give them credit where credit is due. And this is where they deserve credit; players are out there practicing to get better, and that may mean a few minor injuries, or making some mistakes. But I hope I reminded you to take it with a grain of salt, it’s 3 months before the start of the regular season after all, there’s more than enough time for NFL players to get into shape and get better for the start of the NFL season.

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