Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC North [Print without images]

Monday, April 16, 2012
BBAO: Offseason programs set to begin

By Kevin Seifert

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Hello there. I hope everyone had an outstanding weekend.

This week will provide ample evidence of how the NFL has earned year-around interest despite a four-month regular season. Monday marks the earliest possible day for NFC North teams to begin the first phase of their offseason workouts, and you can expect them to be covered deeply in most markets and discussed avidly by fans. Sometime soon we'll also celebrate a national holiday when the league announces its full 2012 schedule.

Over the next two weeks, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post points out, most NFL teams will be restricted to strength and conditioning work. Phase Two of the offseason (how official does that sound!) lasts three weeks and allows players to be on the field for drill work but no "team" 11-on-11 scrimmages. That is reserved for Phase Three, which will include up to 10 organized team activities (OTAs) and one mandatory minicamp. Phase Three lasts four weeks, for those of you scheduling out your next few months.

Hold on and get ready for the ride -- if you dare.

Let's take our morning spin around the division: