Dan Campbell will have to wait two more weeks to get in front of his Detroit Lions.
The NFL sent a memo to teams Tuesday detailing the start of the offseason program. According to the memo, all teams can start Organized Team Activities on April 19, NFL Network reported, and players can work out at team facilities in small groups.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, NFL teams with new coaches were given an extra minicamp and a two-week head start on their offseason programs.
Both of those provisions have gone away under the new rules.
Campbell, who was hired in January as Detroit Lions coach, downplayed Monday any disadvantage he and the Lions might have due to a shortened offseason program.
Had the old rules been in place this spring, the Detroit Lions would have been allowed to start their formal offseason program next week.
“Here’s the beauty of it,” Campbell said. “Everybody in the league has to fall under the same rules. That’s the bright side to all of this is like, OK, well, we’re all kind of the same in that regard.”
Last year, NFL teams were forced to navigate an even more unusual offseason because of COVID-19.
There were no formal in-person workouts, practices or minicamps, and all meetings were conducted virtually.
This spring, meetings could remain virtual, and it remains unclear how minicamps, OTA practices and strength and weight training sessions will look.
“Last year, we kind of felt like one of the advantages at New Orleans was that he had a veteran group that worked together. Our offense, our defense, special teams, we were schematically the same. There was really nothing new,” said Campbell, the former Saints assistant head coach. “And so we kind of felt like we had an advantage not having an offseason. But yet, I would tell you we got off to a slow start. We were 1-3, had dropped two in a row before I felt like we woke up and got our rhythm a little bit. So I’m not that concerned about it, honestly.
“If there was a concern, it would be strength and conditioning, that part of it, and your guys working together a little bit. But if that’s the case, you give them a plan and you keep tabs on them, make sure they’re staying on top of what they got to do. But listen, man, that’s not going to be – we’re not going to use that as an excuse for us. If we can’t start till training camp, then you know what? We’ll be ready to go and we’ll hit the ground running and we’ll get what we need to get out of it and adapt as fast as possible.”