Monday was the first day of offseason workouts for the Buffalo Bills, and there were plenty of players showing up to get back to work as the team tries to find the right way to win a long-coveted AFC Championship.
As the players return to Orchard Park, NY, the league has a very specific guideline about what is and isn’t allowed over the next few weeks in terms of practice — who can and who can’t, who can watch, who can coach, and who can actually touch a football.
Here’s a look at what was allowed for Monday’s practice (and for the next two weeks) as the Bills enter Phase One of this year’s offseason program.
Only “Dead Ball” activities are allowed. This means just strength and conditioning, with just the strength and conditioning coaches being allowed on the field. No position coaches, no coordinators, no head coaches or their assistants.
BUT, some players can use a football during workouts:
- Quarterbacks can throw to receivers, but there can be no coverage from the defense (or anyone else for that matter).
- Kickers and punters can kick the football, but no one can field the ball, no one can snap the ball to them, and they have to use a tee because no one can hold the ball for them.
- Long snappers can snap the ball, but it has to be into a net, as no one can receive the ball from them.
- Defensive players can not catch a football from anyone.
Players are only allowed to be at the facility for workouts for a maximum of four hours each day. Within those four hours, the team can only specify two of the hours — the other two hours are at the players’ choice and can be used for workouts in the weight room, cardiovascular activity, etc. In addition, only 90 minutes of those team-specified two hours can be spent actually on a football field.
Most importantly, none of the workouts can be mandatory. All activities in Phase One are required by the agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA to be voluntary. In fact, no workouts can be required — which means players can’t be fined for not attending — until mini-camp, which for the Bills won’t be until June 13-15.
So, if you’re missing your favorite star, don’t panic — it doesn’t mean he’s considering a career change. It just means he has other plans this week. Check previous years’ workouts to see who was or wasn’t in attendance. (Yes, I’m talking about wide receiver Stefon Diggs — don’t panic, he didn’t go to OTAs in 2021 either, and we all know how well he did that season.)
The Bills will enter Phase Two of the offseason workouts on May 1 and will have OTAs on May 22-23, May 25, May 30-June 1, June 5-6, and June 8.