Lions players planning workouts this week

As NFL players begin organizing their own offseason workouts, I'll be interested to see what the participation level is like in the NFC North.

Let's be real. Weather factors often dissuade players from living year-round in Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and the Twin Cities. They're much more likely to spread out in southern climates, especially in places like Florida that don't levy state income taxes. That's why you're hearing more about group conditioning in places like Miami and New Orleans than you are up our way.

The second week of May is typically when NFL teams begin on-field work, either via minicamps or organized team activities. Players would have to duplicate those conditions on their own during the lockout, and obviously need a good turnout to make drills like 7-on-7s work.

To this point, I'm only aware of one NFC North team with specific plans to do so. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford tweeted last week that "we are rounding up the troops as we speak for some practice in a week or so." Those sessions are expected to start this week.

The advantage is that the practices don't have to take place in the team's city, since coaches and other officials couldn't attend anyway. The disadvantage is that players would assume all risk for injury.

It's possible that some players are awaiting a ruling from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, which is determining whether NFL owners will get a permanent stay to keep the lockout in place. If that's the case, the earliest teams would re-open for business is the end of June. You could expect more players to start organizing themselves if that comes to bear. We'll keep you updated.