Bills begin offseason program Monday morning

April 15, 2018

Three months removed from the organization’s first playoff berth in eighteen years, and less than two weeks before a critically important draft for the future, Buffalo Bills players return to the field for the first time as a team Monday morning for the start of the 2018 voluntary offseason workout program.

Last year, the Bills were allowed to begin their program two weeks earlier than most teams due to having hired a new head coach.  They started on April 3.  But now Sean McDermott enters his second season at the helm and the Bills are just like 25 other clubs who can officially begin this week, referred to as part of “Phase One" in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Even though McDermott’s squad will be on the field, the Bills coach isn’t allowed to be there with them just yet.  Neither is new offensive coordinator Brian Dabol, returning defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, or any of their position coaches.

That’s because during Phase One of the offseason program, only strength and conditioning coaches are allowed on the field with players, who can only be there to participate in basic strength and conditioning or rehabilitation exercises.

Also, it’s important to remember players aren't required to be in attendance.  All workouts are voluntary.  Of course coaches hope every player shows up and even expects them to, in most cases.  But players are under no obligation to be at One Bills Drive yet.  If they aren’t present, they can’t be fined or suspended by the team or league.

Here are some of the details and commonly asked questions about the offseason program, which begins Monday:

What happens during workouts?
Running, lifting weights, and other basic conditioning or rehabilitation exercises.
Will there be actual football drills during workouts?
No.  Quarterbacks can play catch with receivers, but only against “air.”  Otherwise, footballs are not allowed to be used.
Can coaches coach the workouts?
Only strength and conditioning coaches.  Head coach Sean McDermott and his assistants (position coaches and coordinators) are not allowed to be on the field with the players.
What are the three phases of offseason workouts, and what’s allowed and not allowed during each?

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement: 

Phase I - Strength, conditioning and physical rehab only.
Phase II - Individual player instruction and drills are allowed. The offense and defense are allowed to work as separate units, but no live contact or team offense vs. team defense is permitted, including any drills.  No 1-on-1 drills are allowed (for example, no offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen pass rush or pass protection drills; no wide receivers vs. defensive backs bump-and-run drills).
Phase III - OTAs. 7-on-7 and offense vs. defense 11-on-11 is permitted, but with no live contact.  No 1-on-1 drills are allowed (see above).

Are helmets allowed to be worn during these workouts? 
Only in Phase Three.  They are not allowed in Phases One or Two.


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