As voluntary workouts kick off across the NFL along with additional organized team activities (OTAs), questions have been brought up over whether it’s even worth it for players to show up to these “optional” practices.
Looking back at last year, a handful of the league’s best quarterbacks – including Aaron Rodgers and the now-retired Tom Brady – did not show up for OTAs and they ended up having their worst years since coming into the league. But then if you move over to other skill positions, neither Deebo Samuel nor Derrick Henry attended and finished with solid seasons.
Therefore, should these voluntary practices maybe be position-driven?
Not in New Orleans – at least when you have a new captain leading the ship.
For Derek Carr and a refurbished Saints offense, voluntary workouts and OTAs are a must, according to the All-Pro quarterback.
“Today felt like day one,” Carr said on Tuesday. “I think it was a good start, but as soon as you have a good start, it’s all about going up now.”
Having former Raiders teammate in Foster Moreau, who was recently cleared to play after a March diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, appeared to set a family tone for Carr’s first official day in the Big Easy.
“There was no learning curve on how to throw him a football,” Carr said. “I don’t want to undersell what that man just went through. It’s pretty miraculous to see him out there.”
Developing camaraderie between the team’s new faces – including but not limited to Carr, Moreau, Jamaal Williams, Nathan Shepherd, and Khalen Saunders – seems to be priority number one for head coach Dennis Allen, who’s looking to bounce back from a disappointing 7-10 record in his first year.
“We certainly have a lot of getting better to do with new faces and new parts,” Allen said. “Collectively on both sides of the ball, we need to be a bit cleaner and there’s some terminology these new players have to get used to.”
While OTAs may be considered “quasi-practices” by some teams across the league, Allen, Carr, and company are hoping this year’s optional workouts will give the Saints a head start in preparing for the 2023 season. The next set of OTAs for New Orleans is set for May 30-June 1.