With hopes remaining high that a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached, players currently without coaches to instruct or facilities to work out at have been in the process of setting up their own offseason activities. What has happened is that the level to which participation has taken place has been vastly different, but perhaps telling of the core of the players.
The Vikings have had intermittent workouts with a handful of players here, a couple players there and few more scattered around the country. Christian Ponder arranged for offensive players to get together and seven or eight showed up in Florida. A few linebackers – Chad Greenway, Ben Leber and Heath Farwell among them – have been working out in Minnesota. There are several teams in a scattergun state of operation because of the NFL lockout.
More than half the league has had workout sessions – half of those included 20 or more players and six teams (Arizona, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, New Orleans and Washington) have had nearly full-team workouts.
The level of commitment can waver from team to team, but there are some teams that have managed to get everyone involved in some form of an informal minicamp-type practice routine. Others have done very little. The only two teams that haven't done anything (at least scheduled workouts) are the Bears and the Packers, although some Bears players have said they would.
If there is good news to come from the situation, it is that there have been no reported significant injuries from the workouts. That may speak to the level of intensity, but perhaps fans should keep an eye on teams like the Cardinals, Saints, Lions, Falcons, Cowboys and Redskins. Will their commitment to stick together as teammates serve as a starting point to something bigger. It's interesting that the teams that have had the most significant attendance are all NFC teams.
In the NFL, the difference between a good team and a great team can often be the little things that make a team rise to the top – the extra effort given before, during and after practice. There is a fine line between a good team and a very good team and many players will admit the extra repetitions done to perfect timing among teammates can be critical when such a play is needed late in a game.
To date, the Vikings have done little more than the IMG workouts in Florida and the linebackers in Minnesota. The Packers and Bears have done nothing that has been reported. The Lions have seen almost the entire team show up for workouts. Will it matter during the regular season? Answer that in December.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Teams have varying levels of workouts
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