Time isn’t quite running out on everyone for training camp to open on time, but absent a deal quickly between the NFL owners and players, two teams for sure will not be packing their bags when they hoped to be departing.
The lockout and labor impasse has a summer of football up in the air and the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams are scheduled to open their camps July 22 – two weeks from today – with the first practices for the teams set for July 23. There’s a lot of work that needs to take place between then and now for that to remain feasible.
Not only does a labor deal need to happen but then teams need time to digest the new rules and then have a player acquisition period that will feature several different components. Veteran free agents need to be signed, rookie free agents need to be signed and there are 256 draft picks that must be under contract before they can go to camp.
The Bears and Rams open early because they are scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame Game Aug. 7 at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the day after the 2011 class of inductees is enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Obviously, that game is very much up in the air at this point. Teams are scheduled to have 15 days to practice before their first preseason game. The next scheduled game isn’t until Aug. 11 between the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers. So, those clubs will be scheduled to head to camp July 26.
The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets have already cancelled plans to go to nearby universities to conduct their training camps.
Everyone’s camp plans are up in the air until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune