Joint Training Camp Sessions…Wave of The Future in the NFL??

You look across the field on a typical day of training camp and you see the offensive and defensive units conducting drills. The offense will then conduct skeleton drills, then seven on seven drills versus the defense. After practice, there is usually a few hours break, and then the cycle repeats. After a couple of days, players begin to get bored, running the same drills and not hitting anyone. This leads to a lack of concentration which in turn leads to lack of execution in practice.

How does a coach try to avoid these pitfalls? Joint training camp sessions seem to be the answer. Although very popular in the early 1990’s, teams seemed to begin to steer away from joint sessions after opposing teams fought more than practiced, culminating with a huge fracas between the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs in 1998 that included the infamous Kyle Turley.

Now, with the strong possibility of an 18 game regular season and only two (2) pre-season games, coaches will have less time to gauge how players are progressing. The Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots are some of the teams that are currently participating in joint training sessions. Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith said in regards to joint camp sessions:

It’s great for our personnel department to evaluate our guys against other guys,” Smith said. “It’s an opportunity to work against other people.”

Having joint sessions gives players the opportunity to hit players with a different color jersey on, which ALWAYS ratchets up the intensity. Joint sessions also allow coaches the opportunity to learn from one another as pointed out by New Orleans head coach Sean Payton discussing New England head coach Bill Belichick during their joint team session this week:

“He’s a guy that certainly I respect,” Payton said of Belichick. “When we got to New Orleans in ’06, we paid close attention to who was winning in our league and, clearly, we patterned our organization after what New England was trying to accomplish. My grandmother used to say, ‘I think imitation is the greatest form of flattery.’ “

As long as coaches can keep their teams under control by avoiding huge fights, look for joint training camp sessions to be a thing of the future.

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