In another sign that the Washington Redskins organization believes that a settlement to the NFL lockout is at hand, Mike Jones of the Washington Post is reporting that the team is planning on starting training camp on July 28. That is 15 days prior to their first scheduled preseason game, which is the earliest they could start camp under the expired collective bargaining agreement.
Whenever it starts, training camp will be held at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia. There was some talk of the team holding camp at George Mason University in Fairfax but the uncertainty created by the labor situation put off any consideration of doing that until at least 2012.
The training camp plans of another NFC East team also have been revealed. According to a report in the San Antonio Express-News, the Dallas Cowboys plan to start camp on July 29. This is considered significant because owner Jerry Jones is on the committee that is negotiating the labor deal and it is in position to know how things are progressing.
July 28 is three weeks from tomorrow and there is a lot to do between now and then. Even if the labor talks proceed smoothly, the free agency period will be abbreviated and hectic. It is likely that the Redskins and many other NFL teams still will be signing new players and jettisoning some on their roster well into camp.
It remains to be seen if players will be permitted to go to Redskins Park prior to the start of camp. Certainly, Mike Shanahan and the rest of the coaches would like an opportunity to distribute playbooks and to see which players have been diligent about staying in shape during this unsupervised offseason and which will have trouble passing a conditioning test.
They also are awaiting word on how many players will be permitted to participate in training camp. Normally, there is an 80-player limit but that could be expanded. There were reports that the NFL competition committee was considering allowing teams to have as many as 90 players in camp to deal with the expected increase in injuries, both major and minor, as players work their way back into their jobs.
Shanahan is a preparation freak and there is no doubt that he has every minute of every day of camp planned out. He just needs to know when the pull the trigger and it is looking more and more like that he will be able to do so in about three weeks.