Teams around the NFL kick off the first phase of offseason workout sessions this week.
The Cleveland Browns are no exception, with players invited to Berea starting Tuesday, April 19.
As per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, all sessions are voluntary until June 14.
That’s when the Browns hold their 3-day mandatory minicamp.
But Cleveland’s new quarterback won’t wait until then to show up at workouts.
Deshaun Watson advised the organization he plans to arrive Tuesday ready to absorb what he can.
And he expects to be a full participant in the remaining voluntary sessions, too.
First day of #Browns offseason workout program begins on Tuesday. Team can hold meetings, strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation activities only. It is voluntary. QB Deshaun Watson is expected to attend.
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) April 17, 2022
First phase programs like this week’s are limited to meetings, rehab, and strength/conditioning.
Getting the Gang Together
After last season, several key players lamented a sense of separation between teammates.
And it wasn’t just a feeling they had during the Covid seasons.
There were physical barriers and rules separating the offense and the defense.
This will be the first time in the Kevin Stefanski era that no Covid restrictions limit participation or fraternization.
Our players will be back at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus soon 💪
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) April 6, 2022
Last year, almost the entire team was vaccinated, as was all the staff.
The NFL deems vaccination efforts and availability sufficient to protect players in 2022.
Whether the team allows yoga instructors and more socialization with staff remains to be seen.
Those were among the suggestions from players on exit interviews last year.
What To Expect
Kevin Stefanski made the most of virtual sessions and limited participation last year.
Coaches got a lot of hands-on with new players who made up the bulk of attendees.
And they can see who fell out of shape since January during the strength and conditioning sessions.
Best of all, many players and coaches will speak to the press during the week.
#Browns John Johnson III said some areas he can see that the training and conditioning staff could improve would be implementing yoga, players having better individual relationships with trainers and putting an emphasis on sports science and how it can help them stay healthy.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) January 10, 2022
Questions and answers can kill some offseason rumors and innuendo making the rounds.
But there are always surprises and one-liners to start the anticipation process for all of us.
At the very least, stories and official team updates will feed the needs of football-starved fans.
And lift the mood of the Browns’ social media.
Everyone Is Invited
Teams encourage every player to attend the offseason workouts.
It remains to be seen how many of the roughly 59 players currently on the roster show up.
Many players practiced on their own during voluntary sessions last season.
JC Tretter and the players’ union harped on unnecessary offseason contact drills.
#Browns Kevin Stefanski said that he's texted with many of his players this offseason but hasn't met up with them yet. Said he wants to give them space to enjoy their offseason and joked that he maybe he could have gone on the trip to Kenya Myles Garrett just took.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) March 2, 2022
They felt the extra contact led to more injuries and risks over the course of the year.
But at least in the Browns’ case, there was no positive effect with diminished contact sessions in 2022.
One player not expected to travel to Berea is Baker Mayfield.
But it would make for some interesting observations if he did.