When August arrives, fans can almost smell it: football! Long before the air gets crisp and the leaves start to fall, the faithful endure sweltering heat to cheer on their favorite players at training camp. But attendees only see a fraction of a team's summer routine. What does a day in camp really entail?
For starters, it’s a long day. According to Rams coach Sean McVay, a typical training camp day for his team at UC Irvine goes like this:
8:15 a.m.—Staff meeting to lay out the day.
8:45–9:05 a.m.—Special teams meeting.
9:15–10:45 a.m.—Offensive and defensive meetings.
11:15–12:00 p.m.—Walk-through practice on the field. The guys take a break.
3:00–5:00 p.m.—Practice on the field with light contact (open to the public).
7:45–9:00 p.m.—Watch the practice tape and meet again.
Rams coach Sean McVay and Kid Reporter Carlo Vellandi
With the NFL allowing organized team activities (OTAs) and team minicamps prior to official training camp, the camp can be a mix of mental and physical exercises.
“The biggest thing we want to be able to do during camp is make sure that we have good meetings with our players to get them fully prepared,” said McVay. “And ultimately we want to do a good job at trying to get a little bit better every single day. We talk about that—daily improvement—and we always focus on that.”
There are also ever-changing rules about how long teams can have their players on the field during training camp. Ironically, the Rams use much of that time adjusting to new on-field regulations.
“As far as some of the new rule changes, they’ve really talked about emphasizing proper tackling and those fundamentals. And those are things we definitely try to coach to our players specifically on defense," McVay said.
Teams also switch up the format of their camps for various reasons. Practices that are closed to the public might be used to test trick plays. Or two teams will hold a joint session. After going against teammates for so many days, it makes sense to play a different opponent.
“It’s good to be able to change it up,” said McVay. “Usually when you go against somebody else, you get a different scheme, so guys can kind of measure themselves against someone other than their teammates.”
Despite all the downtime, training camp is still a fan favorite, as the Rams faithful endure triple-digit temperatures in the hopes of an autograph. Training camp seems to be as much about building a fan base as it is about building team camaraderie!
Photo credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images (sign); Courtesy of the Rams (McVay and Carlo)