BRADENTON -- The NFL is still in a lockout, but there will be a lot of football to talk about this week at the IMG Academy training facility.
The Tampa Bay Bucs will have a three day players organized OTA (off season training activities) and the NFL Players Association will hold its own version of a rookie symposium, which it calls the Business of Football: Rookie Edition.
Quarterback Josh Freeman organized the Bucs workouts, which are just for veterans and will run from Tuesday through Thursday. But When the rookies show up it will offer a chance for some of Tampa’s draft picks to mingle with their soon to be teammates.
After the NFL Players Association announced it would hold its own rookie symposium, IMG offered to make its facilities available and the two sides came to an agreement. It is estimated about 125 rookies will attend.
“They reached out and said they wanted to partner with us and we determined an association with them would be the best experience for these young professionals,” said George Atallah, the NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs.
A conglomerate of people from the sports and business world are expected to attend the rookie event and offer advice to the new players.
Among those slated to address the first year players is former Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs. He and others will talk to the rookies about how to manage their money. One of the scheduled speakers is Luther Elliss, a former Detroit Lions defensive tackle who earned close to $20 million during his career and filed for bankruptcy last year.
“We share in the NFLPA’s mission to prepare athletes for the next stage in life by providing them the resources they need to succeed and realize their potential. At IMG Academy, we refer to this as the total athlete approach to development.” IMG director Trevor Moawad said.
Freeman and his teammate, Tyrone McKenzie from the University of South Florida, are the main organizers for the team workouts. This three day session is the expected to draw the largest number of Bucs since the players started volunteer workouts that have been in effect throughout the NFL lockout.
It is estimated about 40 to 50 players will be there for all of the two-a-day sessions that will run about 90 minutes each, once in the morning and once in the afternoon and will include meetings in-between.
The focus will be on the passing game and include a lot of seven on seven drills. Most of the Bucs linemen on either side of the ball are not expected to attend, but it has been reported that cornerbacks Ronde Barber and E.J. Biggers will attend their first off season workouts with the team.
One person who appears to be benefiting from the lockout and volunteer workouts is McKenzie, who has been working diligently with Freeman to set up the practice sessions.
McKenzie, who set a USF single season school record with 121 tackles in 2007, was selected by New England in the third round of the ’09 draft. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament during rookie minicamp and was subsequently released.
The 6-2, 240 pound linebacker was with the Bucs practice squad last year and promoted to the active roster last December. Now healthy, he hopes to show the promise he demonstrated at USF and challenge for significant playing time at either middle or weakside linebacker.
He has been receiving rave reviews from his teammates for the dedication and commitment he has shown during the off season.