METAIRIE -- The new Collective Bargaining Agreement essentially has turned this week's minicamp -- all five mandatory, full squad workouts -- into "glorified'' Organized Team Activities, according to New Orleans Saints players and coaches.
The current CBA, a 10-year agreement that extends through the 2020 season, allows players to spend a maximum of 3 1/2 hours on the field each day of minicamp, with only 2 1/2 of those hours devoted to full speed activity.
Two-a-day practices have been effectively eliminated, as any second practices are limited to non-helmet walkthroughs. Shells and shoulders pads are not allowed to be worn at any time during minicamp.
"I'll live with it as long as everybody else is playing by the same rules,'' Saints acting head coach Joe Vitt said between workouts Tuesday. "As long as we're on the same level playing field, then I'm OK with it.''
Several players said they understand the rationale behind the changes because less offseason demands can actually lengthen careers. But some observers see this as a first step for the league to extend the regular season from 16 games to 18 games.
"Some days you don't mind (less physical work in pads),'' Saints defensive tackle Remi Ayodele said. "Then some days, you really do feel like you need that work. But I see why they did it. You feel a lot healthier the next day, so I'm not against it.''
Saints defensive end Junior Galette shared Ayodele's sentiment.
"I'm definitely for it because I think it can extend guys' careers, so that's good for the game of football,'' Galette said. "Guys who normally might play six or seven years now maybe can play longer.''
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