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Hopefully the Seahawks can avoid any rules violations during OTAs this year.
During OTAs the maximum time allowed on the field is two hours per day, and the total time allotted to a day’s work in any capacity cannot exceed six hours.
Full padded practices are strictly prohibited. Helmets are allowed, but shoulder pads and practice pants are forbidden.
Under the old CBA, which I played under, players were expected to wear soft shells, also known as skeletons or spiders, which provided cushion for the shoulders and prevented injury from accidental contact from a random helmet. But in today’s “safety first” NFL, soft shells are a thing of the past.
In all honesty, it’s difficult to accurately interpret the rules regarding contact during OTAs, especially when trying to execute football moves under the constraints of fuzzy legal verbiage.
For example, both blocking and pass-rushing are not allowed during OTAs, yet 11-on-11 is acceptable. How can a team perform team drills without permissible blocking and tackling?
Last year Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy voiced his confusion with the rules regarding contact during OTAs and felt they lacked clarity.
What are the consequences of violating these rules?
As written by Mike Wilkening of Pro Football Talk:
According to the CBA, a team and its head coach “are jointly responsible for any conduct in violation” of offseason workout rules, and fines can be levied by Commissioner Roger Goodell if necessary. For a first upheld violation, head coach can be fined up to $100,000, with a club fined as much as $250,000. However, the commissioner can wave fines or impose smaller penalties depending upon the nature of the violation.
In the event of a workout rules breach, a team will lose its “next scheduled week of OTAs,” per the CBA. A second workout violation in the same league year will cost a club a fourth-round pick in the next draft as well as another week of OTAs.
Last year these consequences proved to be more than just idle words, as the Seahawks discovered first-hand what happens when you venture too close to an already blurry threshold.
By contrast, when I played in the league, OTAs were extremely physical and basically treated like a regular padded practice. The only difference is players tried to avoid using their shoulders as a contact point and would wisely differ to their hands. This type of physicality without shoulder pads proved extremely beneficial in regards to improving hand technique.
Unfortunately, it seems the proper playing tempo needed to get a good feel for the game is significantly compromised, ironically in the name of safety.
All rules stated regarding OTAs were sourced through the CBA unless otherwise noted on this slide.