In the NFL, OTA’s are different from training camp in terms of access. Every training camp practice is open to the media and many of them are open to the fans. In the spring, teams are only required to open one OTA per week to the media, a total of three. The three-day minicamp is also open to the media by NFL rules.
Since the media was last allowed into the team’s first OTA a week ago Monday, they have had four additional practices. So that is where we pick up the story lines going into OTA No. 6, which the media will be able to see.
Here is what to watch for:
--Might as well start with Robert Griffin III. Each day more and more of the offense is being installed. He did not look entirely comfortable in the pocket last Monday and it will be interesting to see how he responds with even more plays in his head today. The key for Mike and Kyle Shanahan is to give Griffin enough to challenge him without overwhelming him. The balance is important and how well and how quickly he learns and adjusts will be critical to how well he can perform as a rookie.
--Chris Cooley, who lost 15 pounds during the offseason, showed no effects from the knee injury that cost him most of the 2011 season. He wore no brace or wrap of any kind on the repaired knee and he ran and cut like the Cooley of old. But that was on the first day. How is the knee doing after five practices?
--Who’s returning kicks? It looks like the weather will permit today’s practice to be held outside so there should be a good opportunity to see who is fielding punts and kickoffs. Brandon Banks is the incumbent returner but he will have to fight off strong challenges from the likes of Aldrick Robinson, Anthony Armstrong, rookie Jordan Bernstine, possibly veteran Santana Moss, and others. With the team likely to keep three quarterbacks this year and perhaps an additional offensive lineman, it will be difficult to keep a return specialist as Banks was last year. The returner may well end up being whoever can do the job competently and still contribute at another position.
--Will DeAngelo Hall be there? It appears that much more was made of his absence from last week’s OTA than was warranted. London Fletcher said that Hall had been present for nearly all workouts prior to the one he missed and absence from one of many days of voluntary activity is not anything to get worked up over. We have not heard if he has been present for the four OTA’s since last Monday since they were closed to the media and attendance isn’t discussed. If he’s not there today, however, then there could be a story. This time Mike Shanahan should be available for questions after practice to clear things up, assuming he can avoid being blindsided by one of his defensive backs.
Days until: Minicamp 12; training camp 58; preseason opener @ Bills 70; Redskins @ Saints 101; home opener vs. Bengals 115