Monday, May 21, 2012
Look who's feeling the heat during OTAs
By Mike Sando
Shamzk2 asked earlier Monday whether this was the most pointless item ever.
"No, not the most pointless," I assured him. "I'm saving the most pointless one for later, when things slow down. Right now it's really hopping in the division."
How low can we go in the third week of May?
Fifty-five degrees would be one correct answer.
That is the lowest projected high temperature for an NFC West organized team activity this week, notable simply because the highest projected temperature is well into triple digits. All four NFC West teams have OTAs scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Every division team but St. Louis also works Thursday; the Rams finish up their week with a session Friday. Weather generally isn't a focus for offseason practices, but it should be this week.
Darren Urban's note about projected highs for the Cardinals' facility in Tempe, Ariz., led me to look up projected highs for Renton (Seahawks), Earth City (Rams) and Santa Clara (49ers). The information available through those links will change as forecasts change, but for now, we're looking at a 53-degree gap between highest (108 in Tempe) and lowest (55 in Renton) projected highs.
This wouldn't matter if every team could retreat into the comfort and safety of an indoor facility. The Cardinals and 49ers do not have them. That's a bigger deal for Arizona than for San Francisco given each team's climate (for the 49ers, Santa Clara is milder than San Francisco).
Arizona holds training camp in Flagstaff, where temperatures are mild by comparison with the Phoenix area. While in Tempe, the Cardinals sometimes schedule practices for mornings and/or nights to avoid the hottest hours. The team arranged to use Arizona State's indoor facility a couple of years ago and has discussed building its own.
"Construction of the indoor facility isn't likely to begin until the economy improves and the NFL settles its labor dispute," the Arizona Republic noted in early 2010.
Players reclaimed chunks of the offseason in the new labor deal, meaning they'll spend less time on practice fields during the spring and early summer. Teams are now allowed 10 OTA sessions, down from 14 in the past.
Why would an owner shell out millions for a facility his players are seeking to avoid? There are a few answers for the Cardinals. An indoor facility would serve the team well during its voluntary conditioning program. The Cardinals have already placed great emphasis on their conditioning program, led by strength and conditioning coach John Lott. Also, heat is a factor in Arizona during first several weeks of the regular season.
For those reasons, and perhaps for others, I would expect the Cardinals to follow through on their loosely stated intentions to build an indoor practice facility.