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Falcons organized team activities began today

The Falcons began their organized team activities, or OTAs, today. What does this mean, and what can you expect from our coverage of OTAs this year?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons began their organized team activities today, marking the first day that new head coach Dan Quinn can officially work with players to begin to prepare for the 2015 season. Our coverage of OTAs here at the Falcoholic will be a bit different this year. Before we break that down, let's answer the biggest, most basic question here.

What are OTAs?

Organized team activities, commonly abbreviated as OTAs, are exactly what they sound like--an organized training program to help prepare the team for the coming season. The parameters for these practices are defined very specifically in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and teams are required to film all practices during this timeframe and will face stiff penalties if they violate the rules.

These are not padded practices and no contact beyond what would be considered incidental is permitted. The amount of time players can be required to be at the facility and the amount of time the team is permitted to work on the practice field each day is carefully regulated per the current CBA.

There are three phases to OTAs. The Falcons began the first phase today, which will last for two weeks and emphasizes strength and conditioning. Only strength and conditioning coaches are permitted on the field during this phase, and players can spend 90 minutes maximum on the field.

Phase two will last for three weeks, and will see the team expand the types of drills they can do. No helmets are permitted, and no one-on-one drills and no drills pitting the offense against the defense are allowed during this phase.

Phase three will expand the time the team can request players to be at the facility to six hours per day. The kinds of drills the players can participate in is expanded to include 7 on 7, 9 on 7, and 11 on 11 drills, but no live contact is permitted, and these are not padded practices. Teams can have 10 total OTA practices in the first three weeks of phase three, and the fourth week of this phase is reserved for minicamp, which has its own rules, and we'll address those closer to minicamp.

What's different about OTAs this year?

Well, for one thing, The Falcoholic is credentialed to cover OTAs this year. The league permits media access just once a week during OTAs, and this Thursday will be open to the media in Flowery Branch, so we'll have a full report for you after things wrap up on Thursday.

More importantly, the biggest difference this season is that the Falcons are permitted to begin these activities earlier than other teams, which should help the team adjust to the new coaching staff and new schemes.

What can you expect from our coverage of OTAs?

We'll have a firsthand account of how OTAs are structured, differences in tone and approach from the Mike Smith era, how new players appear to be fitting in, and more. In addition, Dan Quinn and some players will speak to the media after practice is done, so we'll be covering that as well.

Considering the limits placed upon the team and players by the CBA as far as what's permitted in minicamp, don't get your hopes up for anything too specific this week. As OTAs progress and the team is permitted to do more, we'll have more detailed reports.

Obviously, I won't be able to ask Dan Quinn or Falcons players every question readers would like to have answered, but it's possible I'll be able to get a reader question or two addressed. Share your questions for Quinn or specific players in the comments, and look for our coverage of OTAs on Thursday.