Many teams in the NFL are participating in voluntary OTA (Organize Team Activities). This is one of the early chances for the coaches to get a look at how new players will merge with veterans and how players coming back from injuries look after rehab. The problem is that any time a player is participating in physical activity there is a risk of them getting hurt. And if you’re a player in your final contract year and waiting on your next deal, you may want to skip the OTAs… they are voluntary after all. But if they’re voluntary, why do players show up at all? Because coaches look favorably upon players who attend them and it gives a head start over any competition that isn’t there.
So you don’t have to go, but it’s a good idea to be there…. and just how big a risk is it that you might get hurt?
Ask Baltimore Ravens players Dennis Pitta or Tavon Young.
Yesterday Young, a second year player show broke into the starting line up in his rookie season at cornerback, tore his ACL. It was a simple play with very little contact after he went to the ground. He was expected to be the teams top Nickel option. (When a team subs in an additional defensive back in place of a line backer) He finished the 2016 season with 50 tackles, 2 interceptions and 8 passes defensed. He will miss all of the 2017 season.
Today tight end Pitta re-injured his hip during practice. The same hip that he had surgery on in 2013 and 2014. He came back and lead tight ends with 86 receptions last year. It is believed that he has dislocated his hip for the third time in four years and the injury is feared to be career ending. He will need surgery to repair the hip.
Two other players are dealing with injuries that kept them out of practice yesterday. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro is dealing with a sprained toe and defensive lineman Carl Davis strained a pectoral muscle.
At some point the voluntary nature of these activities may become and issue if players start skipping them in larger numbers to avoid injuries. The New York Giants top wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., is skipping their OTA’s right now and the speculation is to avoid injuries. As a player, does it make sense to put yourself at risk when you don’t have to? I have a feeling this will be something that comes up in the next collective bargaining talks.