NFL Training Camp: What You Need to Know
It’s July, which means the NFL season is right around the corner, starting with training camp. Yes please, sir!
By the end of the month, roughly 2,900 players will be reporting to their respective team locations for the commencement of training camp.
What is Training Camp?
Training camp is a roughly month-long ramp-up period to the regular season which consists of a wide variety of activities that include practices, scrimmages, drills, weight training, exhibition games, and team meetings with coaches. Teams use this time to reinforce or install new concepts and tactics. All of these activities are used to evaluate the players to determine depth charts and who will make the final roster, as they must reduce their roster personnel from ninety to fifty three.
When Does It Start?
Twenty-nine of the thirty-two teams report to camp on July 27th. The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers (who play each other in the first pre-season game) report on July 21st. Reigning Super Bowl Champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s report on July 24th.
Is Training Camp Required?
Yes, training camp is mandatory and all players on the current roster are expected to attend. Players not attending face daily fines. However, in rare instances, a player who is unhappy with the team and/or his contract will purposely not attend (a process called “holding out”). The goal is to use the threat of not playing into forcing the team to address his contact concerns or trade him to a different team.
A notable current case of a player holding out, is legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. You can read more about that story here.
Can Fans Attend?
Yes, most teams are expected to hold open practices as part of their training camp schedule. However, teams will still be subject to state and local Covid-19 restrictions. So if you plan on attending, please see your favorite team’s website for more information regarding their open practice schedule as well as any restrictions that may be in place.
Do Teams Practice or Play Against Each Other?
Some teams do elect (but are not forced) to hold joint practices/scrimmages with another team. In addition to these, each team will play three official exhibition (usually referred to as pre-season) games, with the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers each playing four preseason games (see Hall of Fame Game).
What is the Hall of Fame Game?
The Hall of Fame Game is an annual game that kicks off the preseason schedule. It is played at the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. The game is held the same weekend as that year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. The two teams that play in the game are selected by the league and usually have some connection to one of that year’s Hall of Fame inductees. This is considered an extra game in addition to a team’s usual preseason schedule. As such, the two teams playing in it get to play an extra preseason game (this year that means four games while everyone else plays three).
Dates to Know
July 21st to July 27th: Teams Report to Camp
5th: Hall of Fame Exhibition Game: Dallas Cowboys vs Pittsburgh Steelers
12th – 15th: Pre-season – Week 1
17th: Teams must cut roster to eighty-five players
19th – 23rd: Preseason – Week 2
24th: Teams must cut roster to eighty players
27th – 29th: Preseason – Week 3
31st: Teams must cut roster to fifty-three players
9th: Regular Season Opener: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers