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Don't believe the hype during OTA season

The Super Bowl was more than three months ago. The NFL Draft is over and free agency has slowed to a crawl. We are hungry for football, so we turn to Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps for sustenance. 

We try to make it meaningful. We overanalyze like the performances matter. They don't. Here's your ATL guide to what matters and what doesn't in minicamp season:

Every player looks great

The NFL regular season is a zero sum game. If one player gets better, another plays worse. The offseason is when every player looks improved. Quarterbacks have matured. The game has "slowed down" for second-year players. Immature players are more mature. Older players are in better shape. The team looks great on paper and the coaches are happy. 

Look, it's great that Pete Carroll was impressed by Russell Wilson at rookie minicamp. Wilson might prove to be outstanding, but it doesn't really tell us much that he performed well against other rookies while practicing in shorts. That's not football.

It's newsworthy that Wilson will be allowed to compete to start . Then again, Carroll insisted last year that kicker Brandon Coutu would compete to start. Coutu was cut three days after Carroll made the statement.

Depth charts are fungible

This is the time of year that coaches use depth charts to send messages. Guys are "benched" to get their attention. Other unknown veterans rise up the list while rookies realize they won't be handed anything. Depth charts matter in August, when there is live tackling and preseason games start. For now, depth charts just give bored football writers something to talk about.

Surgeries are all minor

Every player is expected back for the start of training camp. (Unless an Achilles' tendon is torn). Every knee surgery is "minor" or routine. There are no injury reporting rules in May and June, so coaches don't say much. We don't usually learn the real story until training camp. If then.

So what matters?

OTAs and minicamps are hardly useless. They are obviously major tools for coaches to teach their schemes. Bill Belichick always says these months are for teaching, not evaluating. 

From a news perspective, major injuries matter. You just can't draw too much meaning out of the performances in OTAs or minicamps. Guys that star in May and June are often forgotten by training camp. Guys that star in camp are often forgotten when the real games count.

As Allen Iverson once said, "We talking about practice?"

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