Redskins Park will be abuzz Monday morning as offseason workouts – and the Jay Gruden era – get underway in Ashburn.
Over the next several weeks, activities will be limited to strength and conditioning. Coaches can, however, begin holding meetings and discussing football concepts. (Teams with new head coaches are permitted to begin Phase One now, while teams with returning coaches must wait until April 21.)
Although attendance is voluntary, it's strongly encouraged.
“Back to work tomm with my bros #HTTR,” defensive end Jarvis Jenkins wrote Sunday night on Twitter.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III posted: “So excited about tomorrow I can’t sleep lol. Feels like the first day of school. Miss my brothers.”
The first few days will, indeed, feel like the first day of school for many players. In addition to a new head coach and many new position coaches, the Redskins have also been among the more active teams in free agency, adding a total of 13 players.
“I think these OTAs are going to be very important to see where we’re at and where we need to improve and where we need to go,” Gruden said at the NFL annual meeting last month. “It’s going to be a great process with the OTAs and then training camp.”
The next several months will be especially critical for Gruden, a first-time head coach who must gain the confidence of the locker room, and Griffin, who missed all of the 2013 offseason while rehabbing his surgically repaired right knee and never quite regained his pre-injury form.
“Every rep matters,” Gruden said, referring to Griffin. “When you start missing reps, it matters, especially as a young quarterback. It matters for Tom Brady, Drew Brees. They want all the reps in the offseason, let alone a second year guy. So that’s a huge, huge disadvantage when your starting quarterback doesn’t get the reps in the offseason and then all of a sudden it’s Game 1 and you, say, ‘Here’s a ball, you’re starting.’ Hopefully these reps he gets in the offseason with us, some of the change in terminology we’re doing in the passing game and even some of the running game things, he’s going to get a lot of reps.”
Gruden added: “He’s going to be able to really grade himself, his footwork, his fundamentals. Those are things that sometimes during the regular season you can’t really focus on.”
After the conditioning portion of the offseason program, things ramp up a bit with Phase Two as coaches are allowed to begin working with players on the field. It concludes with a voluntary three-day minicamp that runs April 29 - May 1. During that first minicamp, which is also exclusive to teams with new coaches, Gruden and General Manager Bruce Allen will have the opportunity to evaluate players returning from injury (like Phillip Thomas), monitor those whose responsibilities are changing (such as Kory Lichtensteiger, who is moving to center) as well as gauge the progress of some who struggled in 2013 (like Bacarri Rambo). It will also give Allen a chance to identify remaining holes ahead of the NFL draft, which begins May 8.
The more intensive Phase Three gets underway late next month with three sessions of OTAs and a mandatory minicamp. Here’s that schedule:
- May 27-29
- June 2-4
- June 9-12
- June 17-19 (minicamp).
During those sessions, non-contact 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permitted. Seven of the above sessions will be open to the media.
A little more than a month after that, training camp begins in Richmond in late July.