The Dallas Cowboys kick of their first of four Organized Team Activities tomorrow, providing fans with their second football highlight of the offseason after the Rookie Minicamp a few days back.
The OTAs are not the first time the players get together this offseason. In fact, most player have been taking part in voluntary workouts since April 15, but both players and coaches were severely limited in what type of work they could do. That work kicks into high gear tomorrow with the first set of OTAs.
OTA and Minicamp Schedule
May 21-23: Organized Team Activities
May 28-30: Organized Team Activities
June 3-6: Organized Team Activities
June 11-13: Mandatory minicamp
What Can The Cowboys Do During OTAs?
There are still a lot of restrictions in place for what can and cannot be done during OTAS. The primary restriction is that no live contact is allowed in these sessions. Mostly, this is a time for players to work on their technique and for coaches to work on installing their scheme. And that may be the real importance of the OTAs in these CBA-challenged times: The OTAs and the accompanying classroom work is where teams install 75-80% of the playbook for the new season.
Here's what is allowed per the CBA:
All coaches shall be allowed on the field. No live contact is permitted. No one-on-one offense vs. defense drills are permitted (i.e., no offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen pass rush or pass protection drills, no wide receivers vs. defensive backs bump-and-run drills, and no one-on-one special teams drills involving both offense and defense are permitted). Special teams drills (e.g., kicking team vs. return team) are permitted, provided no live contact occurs. Team offense vs. team defense drills, including all drills listed in Appendix G to this Agreement, are permitted, provided no live contact occurs. Clubs may require players to wear helmets; no shells are permitted.
In other words: no individual one-on-one drills, no live contact and no pads. Essentially, the OTAs will be a mix of position drills as well as 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills without live contact.
For the Cowboys, the switch to the 4-3 scheme as well as the battle at the safety position will likely be the focal point of reports over the next three days. On offense, keep your eyes peeled for any reports on the 2-tight end scheme, as that should become an even bigger priority this offseason.
Unfortunately, we won't yet be able to tell much from either the O-line or the running game performance before pads come on in training camp. But watch for who plays which position on the line. Is Frederick playing center, or is he sharing reps with Costa? Is Ron Leary getting first team reps at guard, and who else is in the mix for a starting job at guard (especially with Bernadeau likely sitting out as he recovers from injury)?
And finally, watch out for the names of the UDFAs that pop out in the reports from practices: the guys whose names are mentioned early and often have a tendency to stick around on the roster later.
We'll keep you covered here on BTB on any and all OTA-related news as it comes out. After all, while some people may consider these OTAs meaningless, pad-free practices, the educated football fan knows that nothing less than the future of the world as we know it will be decided in the coming days.
And it all starts at 11:00 am CDT tomorrow.
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