Minnesota Vikings OTA's begin tomorrow at Winter Park. For those of you new to the game of football, an OTA is an Organized Team Activity—an opportunity to get some "team time" together before Training Camp begins in July.
OTA's are a relatively new addition to the NFL's schedule. Prior to about a decade ago, all practices were limited to training camp, prior to the start of the season. This was to prohibit any unfair advantage one team had over another prior to preseason.
With the addition of OTA's and mini-camps (just what it sounds like: a three day mini training camp), teams have an opportunity to hash out any personnel differences, get to know each other's strengths as players (especially essential for rookies and other newly acquired players), and reignite their camaraderie and cohesiveness, so that when the official preseason begins, the team can hit the ground running, as it were.
OTA's this week bring the return of E.J Henderson who was on the injured reserved list much of last season, an opportunity to get our first look at Percy Harvin, and the chance to see Rosenfels and Jackson up close and personal as each vies for the starter position this fall.
Of special note: The return of defensive end Kenechi Udeze after missing last season due to leukemia. Udeze is back and healthy and ready to hit the gridiron. And by the way, a little weary of talking about his leukemia. He is quoted in Star Tribune's writer Sid Hartman's column as saying, "If I hear that question one more time, I think I'm going to go in the back yard and run into the wall. My health is doing just fine now. I don't know what was going on before, but all I know is that right now, as we speak, I'm in great health and doing really well."
So a word to the wise, don't bring it up. And who can blame him? He's here to play football. And any public service he might want to do in the future regarding his former condition is best suited to one of the many foundations the NFL supports.
While media access to the OTA's is certain, the exact dates are not. Stay tuned, more news as it comes out of Eden Prairie!