With minicamp and the NFLPA Rookie Premier out of the way, the next mark on the St. Louis Rams schedule’ are the Organized Team Activities, more commonly referred to as OTAs.
This year, the Rams will hold their OTAs on:
Tuesday, May 21
Thursday, May 23 through Friday, May 24
Monday, June 3 through Tuesday, June 4
Thursday, June 6 through Friday, June 7
Tuesday, June 11
Thursday, June 13 through Friday, June 14
For those who are wondering “What are OTAs”? These are essentially glorified walkthroughs, a practice in which there is no live contact allowed. However, there are two keys functions of the OTAs. First, this is where some decisions will be made on the final roster, as the coaching staff periodically widdles the team down to 53 players. Secondly, and more importantly, this is where a bulk of the offensive and defensive playbook gets installed.
This year, for the first time since 2010, the Rams will be working under the same offensive coordinator, which means no “new” playbook to digest. However, with the addition of Tim Walton as the defensive coordinator, there will be some new verbiage for James Laurinaitis and Co.
So, if they players can’t hit, what exactly can they do? Well according to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (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… provided no live contact occurs. Clubs may require players to wear helmets; no shells are permitted.
Essentially, the St. Louis Rams will be on the field in helmets running through their playbook from start to finish. The CBA also allows 7-on-7 drills, 9-on-7 drills, and 11-on-11 drills, under the presumption that there will be no live contact in the drills.
This will be the first chance the staff to test out their new toys on both offense and defense. For offensive coordinator, Marty Schottenheimer, and quarterback, Sam Bradford, the Rams’ will see how they can best use Jared Cook and Tavon Austin in the offense. On the other side of the ball, the team will get a feel for Alec Ogletree and T.J. McDonald in the new-look, youth-filled defense.
For us fans, there it will still be a while before football season officially begins. However, for the players and coaches, the NFL season starts now, with minicamps and the OTAs.