<
>

Countdown to offseason work

It won’t be too long before NFC South players get back to work.

Offseason programs don’t start as early as they once did, due to changes in the collective bargaining agreement, but they’ll be starting this month. The offseason program now is broken up into three phases. The first phase includes two weeks that are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation activities.

The second phase involves three weeks of on-field workouts that may include player instruction and drills, but no live contact or offense vs. defense drills. The third phase is a four-week period that includes 10 days of organized team activities (OTAs) with no live contact but drills that include offense vs. defense are permitted.

Each team also is allowed to have a mandatory minicamp. Courtesy of the NFL, here’s the schedule for the offseason program for each of the four NFC South teams:

The Atlanta Falcons will begin their program on May 22. Their OTAs will be held May 28 through May 30, June 4 through June 6 and June 11 through June 14. A mandatory minicamp will be held June 18 through June 20.

The Carolina Panthers begin their offseason program April 15. OTAs are scheduled for May 21 through May 23, May 28 through May 20 and June 3 through June 6. The mandatory minicamp is scheduled for June 11 through 13.

The New Orleans Saints start their program April 15. OTAs are scheduled for May 21 through May 23, May 28 through May 30 and June 10 through 13. Minicamp is scheduled for June 4 through June 6.

April 15 is the start date for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offseason program. OTAs are scheduled for May 20 and 21, May 23, May 29 through 31, June 3 and June 4 and June 6 and June 7. The minicamp is scheduled for June 11 through June 13.