Phase 1 is in the books and Rookie Minicamp is complete, which brings us to Phase 2 of the NFL's offseason program. The second phase is the one that's seen the largest on-field impact of COVID-19 protocols. Phase 2 has been held over three weeks in past years and has served as the appetizer to Phase 3's Organized Team Activities (OTA) and minicamp. This year, that three-week period has been trimmed to one week.
The restrictions against coaches being on the field with players are lifted for Phase 2, as they may now put players through individual instruction and drills. Phase 2 is designed to focus on learning, which means that the intensity and tempo of any drills or plays that are run are done at a walkthrough pace and there is no contact allowed. The Falcons have elected to structure Phase 2 a little bit differently from the way it's often presented or defined.
As offensive and defensive players are not allowed to line up across from each other during Phase 2, the Falcons will break the team up into offensive and defensive units. Due to social distancing requirements, the rookies will begin with lifting and conditioning before the veteran offensive players hit the weight room. While the offense is doing their strength and conditioning work, the defense will be out on the field and the units will flip after an hour. Strength and conditioning break down to 30 minutes in the weight room and 30 minutes of conditioning. It's important to remember the time limits are all dictated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA.
Take a look at some of the players we may face throughout the season in this 2021 Atlanta Falcons schedule gallery.
Given the shortened window of Phase 2 and the introduction of a new coaching staff with new schemes on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, the Falcons will use this week as a teaching phase. Without lining the offense and defense up against each other, the coaches and players can focus on learning the ins and outs of the schemes, terminology, and their individual and unit roles.
In addition to on-field work, players and coaches will continue to meet virtually during Phase 2. Following one week of these workouts and meetings the team will transition to the final portion of the offseason program, Phase 3.