One of the things to come out of the NFL owners meetings this week down in Florida is the 2012 OTA dates for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Previously teams had been allowed 14 offseason organized team activities, but upon ratification of the new CBA, that number is now down to 10.
Alby Oxenreiter, Sports Director for WPXI-TV (NBC) in Pittsburgh, reported via Twitter on Tuesday that the Steelers will hold their 10 OTA sessions between May 22nd and June 14th. That time frame coincides with the NHL Eastern Conference and Stanley Cup Finals according to Oxenreiter.
The OTA sessions are not open to the public and they are designed to start laying the foundation for the upcoming season. The Steelers official nine-week offseason workout program shall be conducted in three phases, as follows according to the new CBA:
Phase One. Phase One shall consist of the first two weeks of the Club’s offseason workout program. Subject to the additional rules set forth in Section 5 of this Article, Phase One activities shall be limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only. During Phase One, only full-time or part-time strength and conditioning coaches, who have no other coaching responsibilities with the Club, shall be allowed on the field; no other coaches shall be allowed on the field or to otherwise participate in or observe activities. No footballs shall be permitted to be used (only “dead ball” activities), except that quarterbacks may elect to throw to receivers provided they are not covered by any other player. Players cannot wear helmets during Phase One.
Phase Two. Phase Two shall consist of the next three weeks of the Club’s offseason workout program. Subject to the additional rules set forth in Section 5 of this Article, during Phase Two all coaches shall be allowed on the field. On-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills, as well as “perfect play” drills (e.g., offense or defense only, but not offense vs. defense), or special teams drills on a “separates” basis (e.g.., kicking team or return team only, but not kicking team vs. return team). No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted. No offense vs. defense drills are permitted (e.g.., no one-on-one offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen pass rush or pass protection drills, no wide receivers vs. defensive backs bump-and-run drills, and no one-on-one special teams drills involving both offense and defense are permitted.) Players cannot wear helmets during Phase Two.
Phase Three. Phase Three shall consist of the next four weeks of the Club’s offseason workout program. Subject to the additional rules set forth in Subsections 5(a) and 5(c) of this Article and Appendix G to this Agreement, during Phase Three each Club may conduct a total of ten days of organized team practice activity (“OTAs” or “OTA days”). The restrictions set forth in Subsection 5(b) of this Article shall not apply to OTA days. The Club may conduct a maximum of three days of OTAs during each of the first two weeks of Phase Three. A maximum of four days of OTAs may be conducted during either the third week or the fourth week of Phase Three, with the Mandatory Veteran Minicamp (Article 22, Section 2) to be held during the other week. During weeks in which the Club conducts only three days of OTAs, the Club may also conduct a fourth day of non-OTA workouts, but such activities shall be subject to the rules governing Phase Two workouts, as set forth in Subsection 2(b)(ii) of this Article. During Phase Three, all coaches shall be allowed on the field. No live contact is permitted. No one-on-one offense vs. defense drills are permitted (i.e., no offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen pass rush or pass protection drills, no wide receivers vs. defensive backs bump-and-run drills, and no one-on-one special teams drills involving both offense and defense are permitted). Special teams drills (e.g., kicking team vs. return team) are permitted, provided no live contact occurs. Team offense vs. team defense drills, including all drills listed in Appendix G to this Agreement, are permitted, provided no live contact occurs. Clubs may require players to wear helmets; no shells are permit-ted during Phase Three of the Club’s offseason workout program or any minicamp.
It should be noted that it is not mandatory for a Steelers player to attend or participate in any offseason workout program or classroom instruction as the sessions are strictly voluntary and have take place in the manner and time period set forth in the CBA. They are highly encouraged though, especially for younger players on the roster.