The rookies are here to stay. At least for the next several weeks.
When the Tennessee Titans 2012 draft class and recently signed rookie free agents report to the facility for the first time this week, it won’t be for just a quick look around.
Unlike previous seasons, when first-year players went through three days of rookie orientation and then were sent home to digest much of what they learned, this year they will go directly from orientation to integration with the veteran players.
“They will have rookie orientation … with just one-on-one time with the coaches and get their equipment and those type of things, get their physicals,” coach Mike Munchak said. “That will be Friday or Saturday, and we’ll have Sunday off. Then Monday they will start in with the [veteran] players. It will be part of the normal program.”
The three-week second phase of the new NFL offseason begins Monday. That is when coaches can work with players in on-the-field training sessions. The first phase, which lasts two weeks, limits players to meetings with coaches in addition to organized conditioning sessions.
The new NFL calendar decreases the overall amount of time players can be put through the paces. Munchak wants to make the most of the time allotted by having all of his players go through it together for all but the first week.
“The rookies will just jump right into the program, and that will be part of the last seven weeks of the nine-week program,” Munchak said. “We will finish up towards the end of June.”
None of that was an option last year, when players were locked out until the end of July. Under former coach Jeff Fisher, veterans had several offseason sessions on their own before the rookies finally were added.
“For the past years we’ve brought [the rookies] in, I think, the week after the draft,” Munchak said. “We are going to wait until [Thursday], which is the second weekend. The reason behind that is we can bring them in that Thursday and keep them here.”