For the players, 2010 starts today


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A lot of fans see the late July/early August kickoff of training camp as the unofficial start of the season. Others see the actual start of the season, in September, for that.

But for the Patriots players, and a bunch of players on other teams, 2010 starts today with the beginning of the club’s offseason program.

What so many of them call “Grind Season” got a kick-start this morning with this Tweet from second year corner Darius Butler (@dariusbutler28): “Early bird gets the worm… Weightroom“.

So how does this all work? Well, the great majority of all this is voluntary (though many players have workout bonuses tied into their attendance), and some high-profile schools have their own programs that alums flock to, but the Patriots have traditionally been able to lure players here (on days like today … how?) and it’s been a valuable aspect of the club’s process.

Here are the rules:

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Each team is allowed 14 weeks to run its program. Only the rookie minicamp in May and the veteran minicamp thereafter is to be mandatory. And, of course, the vet minicamp’s the only one that’s mandatory for everyone. (The one exception here is for teams with new coaches, who are granted an additional minicamp.)

* Each team is allowed 14 OTAs — organized team activities — that are to be no longer than 90 minutes in length. Contact is strictly forbidden. Usually, these are used as passing camps, and teaching and installation are emphasized.


* A player is not allowed to spend more than four hours on team grounds during any given day. The club is only permitted to specify two hours that the player should be there, and the player is free to choose two additional hours in which to work out. In addition, no player is allowed to be on team grounds for more than four days in a week, or on weekends at all.

* Players are compensated with $120 of pay for each day in attendance. Workout bonuses are not included in that total.

* If a player is injured during on club grounds under the direction of a team official, he is protected in the same way he would be if injured during training camp.

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* For the 10 consecutive days prior to training camp, no veteran is allowed on team grounds with the exception of: A) quarterbacks, B) players that finished the season on the PUP or IR, C) sustained an injury or had surgery in the offseason or D) failed the team’s physical.