With the draft out of the way, the next big event for the Saints is the rookie mini-camp next weekend (May 10-12). Who is eligible to attend:
First year players and rookies. Per the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, a rookie is any player who has never signed an NFL contract, or a player who has only signed a contract to a practice squad. A first year player is one who has signed an NFL contract previously but has not earned a season of pension credit (think Nick Toon). So the Saints will invite all their draft picks, undrafted free agent pickups as well as several long shot players trying out. What happens at rookie mini-camp?
A lot of this is from a Denver Broncos website, but it is a good recap of the typical experience for rookies getting their first official NFL workout. Rookie Mini-Camp Experience
Each player will be subjected to a vast amount of information to process in a short time. Learning from the coaches, learning the system, learning their way around the team facilities, and learning the way their new team practices. There is new terminology to learn and every drill a little more taxing. They WILL have a chance to learn about the new city they work in later, and once they're surrounded by veterans, they will be learning from them--if they pay attention.
Rookie Mini-Camps ease the transition to the NFL by allowing rookies to get all of the repetitions and learn the scheme, playbook, and practice format and drills, before the veterans arrive. It allows the coaches to better evaluate the players in an element separate from the veterans. Especially how quickly they are able to process all the information they are being fed.
quote: Making a good first impression is critical:
Don't believe the hype. Despite not wearing pads, the players do get physical at mini-camp. The coaches will tell the rookies they want them to protect each other on the field and to be smart about their tempo during practice. There will be signs up in the locker room that recite the purpose of mini-camp practices and mention the level of intensity should be conducive to learning and not a situation where it becomes a physical contest between two players.
Though players only wear helmets and do not have on pads, mini-camp is most definitely a competitive endeavor that is being fully evaluated by the coaching staff. Defensive linemen try to physically beat their counterparts along the offensive line. Offensive linemen try to get off the ball and create a push in the running game. If drills weren't being evaluated, NFL Teams would not hold mini-camps to gauge the talent on their rosters.
Despite the fact that no pads are involved, mini-camp is very physical, and the sooner a rookie realizes that, the better. Invariably, one side of the ball increases the tempo as a result of the feeling that the other side is going too hard, and the intensity escalates. Scuffles don't happen unless guys are competing physically against one another.
The coaches want to see the effort that the players put forth and want to see a rookie going full speed, even if they have made a mistake.
We've all heard that saying, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression," and that's a very appropriate term in the NFL. Even though most coaches and scouts have some preconceived notion of the players they've selected before they set foot on the field, mini-camps are the first time the players have an opportunity to either confirm or dispel those beliefs.
Everything a rookie does once he arrives is evaluated. Teams want to know how important football is to a player and how he will act now that he has gotten to the NFL. Who is the first player to arrive in the morning? What players stay after practice to work on the new techniques they are being taught? Which players look like they are treating this as a profession and are hungry to thrive? Which players are picking up the new offense or defense schemes the quickest?
One of the most difficult adjustments for any rookie, and even more so for a player from a lower level, is the increased size and speed of the players around them. For most rookies, mini-camp is the first time in their lives they aren't head and shoulders above everyone on the field. Some rookies have a tough time coming to grips with that fact and are unable to adjust to no longer being the best athlete on the field.
I'm excited to see our new picks working out in black and gold, even if it's just no contact drills and walk throughs.