Around the NFL, there are reports of players getting together to work out and coaches making contact with players. Drew Brees is paying for voluntary workouts for the Saints. Eli Manning pulled together a group of his Giants teammates to work on passing drills.
But we're not hearing the same reports out of the Bears. Though the players have been working out, whether in Chicago or in the various warm-weather climates that the team disperses to after the last game, there aren't any whispers of player-led, organized workouts among the Bears. Rashied Davis discussed finding a place for quarterbacks and receivers back in March, but not much came of it.
Are the players giving up an edge, once the season does start, to the teams who are practicing now?
On the surface, it appears that the Saints and Giants will have a significant advantage over the other teams in the league. Manning, Brees and their teammates are giving themselves extra time to work on timing and passing, skills that can grow rusty in the off-season.
But that assumes that the practices will go smoothly. According to Packer A.J. Hawk, it's not so rosy.
"I've heard that different guys' workouts from different teams have just been a disaster. They're working out at bad high school fields and equipment and all that kind of stuff."
Yes, he's a Packer, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't believe him. NFL players are used to state of the art everything: from workout clothes to workout fields. Fields normally used by the East Suburban Mid-Central Silver Division Champs are not built to stand up to professional football players.
The players are also limited as to what they can do without coaches. Passing drills, running routes and strength and conditioning workouts can happen, but defensive players are limited to seven-on-seven drills. Defensive backs can run routes with the receivers, but they have to be careful about contact, as the players aren't covered by NFL insurance.
Players can't learn a playbook when one hasn't been given to them. Even if a coach is improperly contacting his players, the players have to be careful so not to tip off the NFL of the improprieties.
It's not like players are letting themselves fall out of the shape. This isn't like the old days, when Walter Payton was a pioneer for having such a difficult off-season training plan. From Northbrook to Miami, Bears are at gyms and training centers, putting in the work. There would be reason to worry if they weren't, but their endless barrage of tweets about training assure us that they are.
So would it be inspiring to see the Bears all gather at an undisclosed high school field in Chicagoland to start practicing? Sure, but don't be discouraged that they're not.