Rookie minicamp kicks off Friday, which means the quiet time after the Falcons schedule release on Wednesday will be short-lived. From there, we’re firmly in the heart of the offseason program, albeit a purely volunteer, purely low-speed and pressure portion of it.
For the team’s 9 drafted rookies and 20 undrafted free agents, it’ll be an introduction to the team’s facilities in Flowery Branch, an opportunity for some very light work, and the start of what hopefully is a long, healthy and fruitful offseason for a group Atlanta’s likely to rely on heavily in 2021.
What you shouldn’t expect are any big breaking news items, to the effect of “Kyle Pitts cleaves goalpost in half with powerful jump kick” or “Avery Williams sews up punt returner job.” It’s the first action for these guys, for starters, and rookie minicamp tends to be pretty quiet even when local and national reporters are there sniffing for stories. Any reports we get from rookie minicamp will originate from the team, as the league has yet to lift COVID-19-related restrictions on media attendance for events like this, and we won’t expect to glean much.
Things get a bit more interesting immediately after rookie minicamp, when all workouts are voluntary and attendance could be pretty low. Falcons players made it clear back in April that many of them will choose not to attend any voluntary offseason workouts because there are not clear COVID-19 protocol they’re comfortable with from the league yet, and because there’s data available that suggests there was not a spike in injuries or a drop in performance owing to a largely virtual offseason in 2020. In fact, the data suggests fewer injuries, in particular concussions, and players from the NFLPA’s player lead J.C. Tretter to Tom Brady have suggested it’s time to take a hard look at the traditional offseason and change things up.
A majority of teams across the league have taken similar stances at the urging of the NFLPA, so while it sounds like there will be some veterans attending OTAs and the like over the next month, that number could be quite low if players are not satisfied with the guidance the NFL has offered or just prefer to do work on their own. It’s something to keep an eye on.
The schedule for the early offseason program is below. Training camp dates will be announced sometime in June, if past history holds. and we’ll share that schedule as soon as we have it.
Rookie minicamp: Friday, May 14 through Sunday, May 16
On-field/walkthrough work: Monday, May 17 through Friday, May 21
Meetings/OTAs: Saturday, May 22 through Monday, June 7
Mandatory minicamp: Tuesday, June 8 through Thursday, June 10