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Are OTAs worth much?

Posted by Albert Breer  May 21, 2010 07:56 AM

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A whole bunch of teams kicked off their "Organized Team Activities" -- what you so often hear referred to as "OTAs" -- this week. The Patriots start theirs on Monday.

So what are they? Basically, the league allows each team 14 of these (New England has 12 days set aside for them at this point), and each is to be voluntary with contact strictly forbidden. As we mentioned back in March, these are generally passing camps with teaching and installation emphasized.

"You're just teaching right now," Texans coach Gary Kubiak explains. "Basically, we teach the passing game one day. We come back the next day and teach a team concept. Right now you're trying to find out about all the young kids, get them caught up and take the offseason to catch them up with veterans so they can compete against them at the end of summer."

SI.com's Ross Tucker has a little bit of a different take on all this. He poses this challenge to the powers-that-be who so often deride players for skipping out this time of year ... If it's so important, put it in the contract.

Here's the point Tucker's trying to make in his story, that might make more people start to see where the players are coming from: "The annual angst on the part of some fans upon learning the news that one or more of their players is absent from OTAs never ceases to amaze me. NFL players have a contract, and that contract dictates the days in which they are required to work. If they choose to show up and work some extra days that are not required of them, so be it. But they shouldn't be chastised for it if they don't. How many hourly employees do you know who work extra hours just for the heck of it, knowing full well they aren't going to get paid for them? Exactly."

It's a pretty interesting point, particularly coming from a guy who played in the league, and might be good to keep in mind when all of us in the media are passing along attendance reports from these voluntary exercises over the next few weeks. The only activity teams can hold that's mandatory for all players is the full-squad minicamp -- The Patriots' is slated for June 15-17.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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