Your Atlanta Falcons begin their OTAs today. It should be very interesting as the veterans and rookies mix for the first time. What's more, it's been a busy offseason, and we're all eager to see how the free agent additions fit in. (I'm looking at you, Mohamed Sanu.)
Just so we're all on the same page, let's review what OTAs entail. They're governed by Article 21 of the infamous Collective Bargaining Agreement. This is what's known as "Phase Three" of the NFL's offseason program. Teams can have ten days of practices over a four week period but technically no contact is allowed. That said, you can run 11 on 11 drills, so it's still an important indicator for the coaching staff about the state of the team. In mid-June the team will follow up with a mini camp and training camp kicks off in July. In short, I can smell the regular season, and it smells delicious. (I'd describe it as a mixture of chicken 'n' waffles and grape soda.)
So what should you keep an eye on this week? Here's a start:
How do the rookies fit in?
First, watch how the rookies adapt now that they're mixing it up with the veterans. Transitioning to the NFL is a challenge for all but the truly elite. Meanwhile, keep a careful eye on some of the UDFAs we told you about a few weeks back. This is a an important stepping stone if any of those guys want to make this team.
What changes will the coaching staff make?
Second, keep an eye on the coaching staff. This is year two of the Dan Quinn era. He's going to continue to tweak his program until he's comfortable. The team is debuting video seminars for the media this week. (Basically the coaches are going to meet with the media and review video to show them what they're doing on the field.) From a personnel standpoint, this defense more closely resembles what Quinn has in mind. Expect him to get a little looser now that he has his guys.
How will the depth chart change?
Third, watch the depth chart. We're going to watch several position battles play out between now and the season opener. Today begins that process. Will Austin Hooper have an immediate role? Can Sean Weatherspoon get meaningful playing time? Will Paul Worrilow be relegated to a reserve role? These are the questions. The answers will come.
Alright, Falcons fans, what are your thoughts? What are you looking forward to as OTAs kick off?