Today is the beginning of organized team activities, or OTAs, for our Atlanta Falcons. That means a majority of the team’s players will be in Flowery Branch, and that in turn means we should be keenly interested in what’s happening for rookies and veterans alike.
It is not, however, the time of year where we need to overreact to things, even if in the year of our Football Gods 2018 it seems like that’s a daily thing. Let’s talk about what you need to remember today as those OTA reports begin to trickle in. You’ll notice this advice mirrors what I wrote a year ago this time.
Don’t read into who isn’t there
OTAs are voluntary. Julio Jones may not be there because he’s interested in having his contract upgraded/updated, and you may see some familiar faces electing to work out somewhere else. Because this time of year is elective, you really don’t need to fret too much about someone not being there unless it is revealed they’re dealing with a significant injury. If players don’t show up for mandatory minicamp, which is also coming up, you can quirk an eyebrow at that.
Don’t invest in the “best shape of his life” narrative
A year ago, I wrote that you should not worry about Deion Jones adding some bulk or Brooks Reed showing up looking like a palette-swapped Hulk with Thor’s hair, because it rarely turns out to be significant. Debo may have fared a little better last year and Reed too, but generally, someone showing up looking like they spent the offseason powerlifting with a trough of chicken breasts and brown rice in front of them doesn’t end up making a gigantic difference in
This year, Takkarist McKinley is the guy everyone’s wondering about, because he looked significantly bigger in recent photos taken by the team. Again, Takk is a pro coming off a very good rookie season, and whether he’s ten pounds heavier or ten pounds lighter by the time the season starts, he’ll likely have a very good second season.
Don’t put too much stock into OTA reports
If you’re not investing in who is or isn’t there and who looks to be in tip-top shape, what are you supposed to care about? Surely you can invest yourself fully into performances and reports trickling out of OTAs about who looks great, right?
Well, yes and no. The practices that happen are going to yield some interesting observations, and players making plays in shorts are still players making players. However, OTAs aren’t training camp, and there’s not going to be lengthy practices where undrafted guys have a chance to shine against starters and convince us that maybe, just maybe, they’ll have a shot at a roster spot. The practices that do happen are going to be virtually zero contact, per the NFL’s rules, and the players won’t necessarily be in mid-summer shape.
That’s not to say we won’t learn anything interesting from OTAs, because I’m certain we will. It’s just that you should keep in mind that very little of what happens over the next several days will end up reverberating through to September.