Teams should ditch rookie minicamps


Plenty of rookie minicamps will happen this weekend. None should.

Jets coach Adam Gase has it figured out. The incoming draft picks haven’t practiced or played football in months. Instead, they focused first on preparing for the various events of the Underwear Olympics before shifting their focus to the Pro Day script before (where applicable) private workouts for teams. Throw in the possibility of multiple visits to specific teams, and they’re definitely not in football shape by May.

Some may not be in very good shape, generally.

But they still get thrust into a non-contact (supposedly), highly-competitive environment (definitely), with helmets, shirts, shorts, barking coaches, brand-new playbooks, and plenty of non-drafted players trying to win a spot on the 53-man roster or, in the case of minicamp tryout players, on the 90-man roster. It’s a recipe for rancor, as guys with something to prove try to do just that, and as guys not in football shape try to do more than they can.

And what’s the upside? As Gase says, they forget most of it, anyway. The downside, obviously, is potential a season-ending injury.

Yet teams keep doing it, possibly because that’s the way they’ve always done it. Here’s hoping they all see the light before losing a first-round pick for his entire rookie year.

44 responses to “Teams should ditch rookie minicamps

  1. Gase has nothing figured out. He was with the Dolphins, that first year, they made the playoffs but got blown out by the Steelers. Since then, he did nothing. This rookie class room stuff is moronic. Let’s put them in bubble wrap for all of training camp as well then.
    The Jets will eventually find out they made a big mistake by bringing this nut in to be their HC.

  2. Everything isn’t perfect, but it seems to be working alright. NFL football is raking in cash at record numbers and it’s by far the most watched programming on TV. I’m sure we can all send our suggestions to the league office. A serious suggestion usually includes a well thought out plan, not just criticism of the plan that seems to be working fairly well. People who criticize the NFL 24/7 most likely don’t actually have a real alternative plan. Their plan is just to criticize, criticize, criticize. After while it falls on deaf ears.

  3. If I were a rookie I think from the moment I was drafted that I …..couldn’t….. wait to get into team activities fast enough. I’d be like Gronk suiting up on stage. I’d be ready to roll instantly. I’d personally hate to deny that enthusiasm to get rolling.

    Potential accidents are part of life. One could get injured in a bowl game. One could get hurt training for the combine. One could get hurt in rookie camp. One could get hurt in training camp. One could get hurt in an unrelated to sports accident. I don’t think you can regulate the risk that comes with living life. Especially when life is in a physical sport.

  4. Less practice is not a good solution. If nothing else they team camaraderie will get under way and Rookies will start learning how to act like professionals.

  5. You are a college player who played well enough to be considered for the NFL draft.
    You can make A LOT of money in the NFL.

    Do you:

    A – stop working out

    B – continue to work out so at the very least the coach doesn’t notice you as out of shape.

    C – continue to work out and then some, so as to try and impress the coaches.
    You are competing against many excellent athletes. Try to gain every advantage to help secure a roster spot.

  6. These rookies are entering a profession that could potentially pay them millions of dollars over a short 8-10 year career. Question is, WHY AREN’T THEY IN SHAPE and READY to go out and earn that paycheque?

    And if they’re not ready now, what makes you think they’ll suddenly be in shape by regular training camp?

  7. Geesh. In an age where every kid gets a trophy, this is another example of that mentality. These “kids” (who are actually men, by the way) are pros now. They will be competing with guys who know they are there to take their jobs. So they need time to get used to everything being ramped up from what they were used to in college.
    All the things you listed as things they are being subjected to are perfectly fine, and another indication for the coaches as to which players can handle it and which players can’t.
    As for injuries, these “kids” can injure themselves falling off the couch while they’re playing their video games or attending a buddy’s party.
    It’s football. These “kids” have a giant step to take to make it in the pros. If were a rookie, I’d want to have this time with the coaches and the other rookies to be as prepared as I can possibly be when I have to go against the men I will be competing with and against.
    I wish Vince Lombardi were here to read what you suggest. He’d be screaming, “what the hell is going on out there!!”

  8. The longer you postpone any football activity, the greater (logically) the chance of injury becomes. Instead of completely abandoning rookie mini camps, which would give the upcoming class an even steeper learning curve, how about you propose actual, positive improvements. These guys are making a significant professional jump and expected to do so in a short amount of time. It’s a contact sport require extreme physical exertion, injuries can and will always happen. I’d rather have those guys ou there, progressing under my eye than waiting for another 2 months before any real football activity.

  9. Terrible outlook.

    You dont need to be in football shape for mini camp. You’re not playing games.

    These guys KNOW this is coming. Do you really think they’ve stopped working? The agents have these guys in the best shape of their lives.

    They need to learn the playbook and get reps against other guys before taking on the vets in real camp. Getting a head start on putting the physical and mental together before playing with vets is absolutely the smart thing to do.

    Everyone acts like adults need to be babied nowadays. You’re a football player. Quit trying to make excuses and soften them up. If they are tough enough to tske on barking coaches after a couple month layoff, they should look for another job.

  10. Some may not be in very good shape, generally.

    They are supposed to be professional athletes. Being in shape is part of their job. It’s not like it takes that much effort to stay in shape. If a player doesn’t stay in moderate shape during the off-season that speaks a lot about their commitment level. If I had a player like that I’d get rid of them and sign someone who will take the commitment seriously.

    I hate the Patriots but I seriously doubt if they’d put up with that. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of one of their players ballooning up like Bell has. I’d rather have a team full of people who are committed to the program. Too many coaches constantly make excuses for their players. These guys are supposed to be professionals and they are supposed to be grown-ups. In the NFL, dedicated is more important than talented.

  11. Maybe then we can ease up a bit more and do away with training camp, then preseason games, we wouldn’t want anybody to get hit to hard and hurt so do away with the games…slippery slope to 7 on 7 flag football.

    I thought coaches couldn’t yell anymore because they might hurt someone’s feeling because they are stupid (and their parents failed at raising them) and hr won’t stand for that.

    Can’t still figure out why the Jets hired a coach that failed miserably at Miami and only real claim to fame are a lucky throw by Tebow (out like 8 passes) and being on a staff with Peyton (who really didn’t need any coaching) pretty much sucked at everything else.

  12. Any statement that starts with Adam Gase has it figured out is laughable. What has ever figured out. Hes been a head coach for three years and got fired and then hired by a worse team. You get out of anything that you put into it. Gase puts little into these minicamps any wonder why he has a losing record as a coach. Laughable.

  13. Huge props to all the posters here for getting this one right.
    Have a great weekend, one and all.

  14. No Gase doesn’t “have it figured out”. He is a bad coach who led the Fins to nothing and will do the same with the Jets.

    Not sure why anyone thinks softening the game in any further way will improve it but it most certainly won’t. As all the coaches want, the off season program needs to be expanded back to where it was before the last CBA.

  15. Teams should ditch the rookie minicamp….says someone who has never tried out for an NFL team, never run an NFL team, never owned and NFL team. Just saying…

  16. So, no rookie camp, what happens next. You just want to defer the issue to the next OTA or training camp?

    At some point you need to bring in the UDFA’s and rookies. The trick is not to get rid of rookie minicamps but to recognise the issues and run the camp appropriately. If your rookies aren’t in shape, tailor your program to help them get back into shape.

    If Adam Gase can’t run a rookie camp that takes into account the context, that’s surely his problem.

  17. I stopped reading at “Adam Gase has it figured out”, because I knew I would probably disagree with anything that came after that. Looking at the comments I was right.

  18. Don’t upset and stress out anyone, ever. Especially rookie football players. The 1% of the 1% of all top athletes in college football.

  19. I think this also feeds into another topic – the timing of the late April draft. The draft process seems too drawn out both from a media and football standpoint. Why not move it up to early April to give teams and rookies a better chance to get acclimated. The rookie camps could then be redesigned with conditioning, coaching and community as the focal points to help these rookies get prepared. Common sense solution here. Thoughts?

  20. Good grief. Army Ranger, it was my job. I was never out of shape a single day because I could get deployed at any time and not only my livelihood but my life depended on it.

    These guys need a campfire and Smores for a minicamp?

  21. Rookie mini camps are the same as teams across the league. Some are well run positive experiences by the smart teams. The rest are a sh**show.

  22. The goal of rookie mini camp isn’t just about working out its about letting the coaches and management get one on one time with these kids just out of college so they know what to expect before they get in there with veterans who will be way ahead of them in literally everything. They also tryout walk on players during this period as well as get their paperwork, photos, jersey assignments etc done at that time as well. Pretty sure the front office staff of the 32 teams wouldn’t be too excited at the thought of onboarding all the draft picks, undrafted free agents and tryout players at the same time as having to deal with the veterans.

    Also if you drafted a rookie who got out of shape in the month between pro days and the draft then obviously you probably shouldn’t be working in a front office because you didn’t research very well into their work ethic. Are we really acting like college football is 365 days a year and their only time off is leading up to the draft so they don’t know how to stay in shape outside of the season?

  23. The NFL needs to stop being cheap and just expand the roster to 60 players. This will give teams a chance to keep good “specialists” and more backups in case of injuries.

  24. …and when the rookies suffer tons of injuries and don’t know the playbook….don’t blame the NFL.
    Blame the media and the NFLPA.

  25. Theres so much to joining any new organization as a rookie, this seems an awfully drastic suggestion. These guys need to learn so much more than the vets.. Not only the playbook but the meeting of coaches, executives (each-other!) and must learn their way around the training facilities and all the other logistics of any move to a new organization. And thats just to be able to participate with the vets without bogging down the first “real” practices.

    Certainly there is some concern re newbies aggressive energy/competition etc, but thats why they already have “non contact” designations. The rest of the risks should be monitored by competent coaching. But these minicamps are important, if just to ensure the real startup later is a”know what your doing” high-level training camp.

  26. So glad I was never drafted and therefore never had to endure the HELL that is pro football.

  27. Performance is a reflection of the preparation. The more you cut down on preparation, the less you can expect top performance.

  28. My heart swells at the unanimity of opinion on this matter. It can be done! It’s a start but I fear the next post will brings us all back down to earth. Oh well, great weekends to all!

  29. IF you’ve ever watched any video of these kids walking through that building for the first time they’re in awe of everything; the history, the team, getting fitted for their helmets, finding out what their number is, seeing their lockers for the first time, meeting their coaches, meeting their new team mates, especially the vets who are in the building; guys they’ve been watching on TV and whose names they’ve been hearing for years. That right there is enough to have that camp. Walking through new plays, seeing the other rookies, (all of them some of the best players in the world), seeing their speed and agility and abilities, trying to match that and better it; you want to get all of that wonder and awe out of the way as soon as possible. Then, when they get back, they’re football players. Then, they’ve been there before and they’re ready to work, not stare. There’s always a chance someone will get injured; at practice or not. The mini-camp is to get them ready for what will happen when the real camp starts. So yeah, you’re wrong.

  30. If I were a youngster trying to become an NFL player I think I’d stay in fairly good shape. I mean if you’re gonna be a professional athlete then that’s what you do, right? Train and prepare and grind, daily! What happened to the grind? To putting in some work? Perfecting your craft? How bout BEING THE BEST? THIS IS FOOTBALL!, man!

  31. Pretty soon you’ll be suggesting they not practice at all. A player can get hurt at any moment on a football field whether they are in shape or not. They aren’t doing anything in these mini camps other than glorified walk throughs which is why you rarely hear of a player getting hurt in them.

  32. Allen Iverson, oh if you had just practiced you might have had a championship to your name……

  33. Most of these kids haven’t had to really make anything resembling a football decision in college, and these camps have very little risk for injury; if they’re that fragile they shouldn’t be playing with the big boys. There are many nuances besides doing the classwork, that is important to prepare them for even full training camps with the rest of the roster…the importance of the right shoes/cleats, the “language” of the game, unwritten do’s and don’t (good diet and discipline will pay dividends in the long run as opposed to junk food and partying) the temptations that are ever present and can be avoided by making good choices, etc. If you talk to any of the great players they all will talk about the importance of preparation and this rookie minicamp is a bonus for some one-on-one time out of the spotlight where mistakes are allowed. The idea of less preparation being floated is too absurd and belongs right up their with cell phone breaks !

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