Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz scheduled his team's offseason with the expressed purpose of finishing with a grinding, five-day flourish to simulate a training camp schedule. That plan was nixed Thursday when the Lions agreed to forfeit their final two organized team activities after violating the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.
So instead of practicing for all of next week, the Lions won't get onto the field until their mandatory veteran minicamp begins Wednesday. I wouldn't call this a critical blow to the Lions' 2010 hopes, but I think most everyone would agree that after losing 28 of 30 games over the past two seasons, every minute of offseason preparation is a benefit.
In the stormy NFL labor environment, four teams have now lost OTA sessions: the Lions, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars. In the Lions' case, the discipline was for excessive "intensity and tempo" during OTA practices.
Here's what the CBA says about that issue: "Contact work (e.g. 'live' blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run) is expressly prohibited in all offseason workouts." Appendix L includes these specifics:
No pads except protective knee or elbow pads.
No live contact or live drills between offensive and defensive linemen
Drills known as 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 are permitted provided no live contact takes place
The more general rules of OTAs include:
No more than 14 days over no more than 14 weeks of the offseason
No more than four per week
Players can't spend more than four hours per day at the facility
Players can't spend more than 90 minutes on the field
Players can only be assigned two specific hours to be at the facility; the other two are on their own
Head coaches can be fined for violations