- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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NFC West quarterbacks have a relatively strong recent tradition of offseason leadership.
The St. Louis Rams' Sam Bradford and the San Francisco 49ers' Alex Smith organized their teammates for workouts during the 2011 NFL lockout. The 49ers' Colin Kaepernick invited receivers to workout sessions one week after the Super Bowl this offseason.
The collective bargaining agreement sets limits on how much players can work at team facilities during the offseason. Some players thought those limits were necessary to guard against teams pressuring players into spending too much time on the job.
The thinking was understandable, but the rules work against quarterbacks and other conscientious players. Quarterbacks and receivers cannot begin throwing to one another at team facilities until the first phase of the offseason program, which begins in mid-April for teams with returning head coaches. Footballs aren't allowed on the field for any other purposes until the second phase begins two weeks later.
"When your holder and punter and kicker can't touch a football until phase two, that is a challenge," St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher said last week.
Rules also prevent coaches and players from talking about football-related subjects at this point in the offseason. First-year Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said that was one obstacle in talks to reach agreement on a more workable contract with quarterback Kevin Kolb, who was released.
"The inability to sit down and watch film and talk football under the collective bargaining agreement hurt our chances," Arians said. "That made it hard for me."
The game will survive. It's not like March practices are the key to success in the NFL. But when players want to put in the work, there should be better alternatives for them.
"We are hoping it is being discussed," Fisher said. "To send them to the local high school doesn't make much sense."
1mEric D. Williams