NFL training camps are kicking off this week which makes it a very exciting time for football fans. The long wait that began at the end of the Super Bowl is finally coming to an end and while the preseason is still a couple weeks away, the flood of football information is about to come storming in. With that in mind, here are some of the best things about the beginning of training camp.
Football Is Back!
First and foremost, football is officially back! No more watching highlights from last season. No more evaluating organized team activities (OTAs) or minicamps where there was little-to-no contact. This is where things get serious in a hurry, when coaches start implementing plans for the upcoming season and players are fighting for roster spots. It’s also the first time since December or January that fans have the opportunity to see their favorite teams in person.
The Pads Are On
As was just mentioned, the days of running around with no pads on and not tackling anyone are a thing of the past. This is when coaches need to see how players will look in game situations and see how they handle the rigors of a full workload under extreme pressure and generally very hot conditions. It’s not uncommon to see some pretty hard hits and the occasional fight between teammates. From the top of the roster to the bottom, everyone has something to prove and this is the time to do it.
New Players In Action
Training camp is the place where fans will often get their first look at new additions to the team, whether they are draft picks, newly signed free agents or undrafted rookies who received camp invites. This is the time where all the new players will get to show coaches and fans who they are and what they can do.
Possibly the most intriguing parts of training camp are the different position battles that go on. Each team will have their marquee competitions, from quarterback controversies to rookies trying to leapfrog veterans on the depth chart. It’s always interesting to see the competitions between players on the roster bubble because those guys aren’t just fighting for playing time. They’re fighting for a job. As each day goes by there are always new battles under the microscope and seeing how the players respond to the pressure is a good indication of how they’ll perform when the season starts in September.
Around The League
If you think that things get interesting with all the storylines that surround your particular favorite team, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All of the aforementioned topics are happening with every team in the league and some of them are big national stories that catch everyone’s attention. The days of trying to pass the time by searching for topics and things to discuss and debate are over. Every new day brings with it a multitude of stories and discussions that keep time moving quickly towards the beginning of a new season.
Preseason Games Begin
Around two weeks into training camp teams start getting into their respective preseason schedules. It all starts with the Hall of Fame Game which will take place this year on August 3 and feature the Buffalo Bills going up against the New York Giants. Preseason games are the ultimate measuring stick for all the players battling for their place on the team, whether it be a job as a starter or just a place on the final 53-man roster. For fans, there is always that added bonus of seeing your team playing in a real football game for the first time in seven or eight months.
The arrival of training camp generally coincides with beginning preparations for the fantasy football season. Evaluating rookies and veterans while tracking injuries throughout training camp and the preseason plays a big part in how people approach their fantasy drafts. The closer we get to the regular season the more drafts begin taking place.
Every Tuesday during training camp football junkies get treated to behind the scenes access of whichever team is being featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks. This year the series will follow the Atlanta Falcons for the first time. Things should be particularly interesting considering how poor the Falcons 2013 season went down despite many thinking that they would be a contender to play in the Super Bowl. Each year the series consists of five episodes; the first week will be all about training camp while the following four will show the teams’ preseason games and corresponding roster moves (aka players getting cut).