NFL training camps open this week

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» Training camp reporting dates

"Helmets on! Buckle 'em up!"

That's what coaches will say to players this week as the first group of NFL teams report to training camp.

Four clubs will begin their on-field preparations for NFL Kickoff 2010 this week, starting with the Cleveland Browns on Friday, July 23 when their rookies report.

Three teams will follow this weekend, starting with the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, July 24, and then the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers rookies on Sunday, July 25.

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» On The Fringe: Follow the players

By Aug. 1, every NFL team will be in camp.

For the second consecutive year, 17 of the 32 NFL teams will be "staying home" for training camp, which represents more than half the league (53 percent). In 2001, only 5 of 31 teams stayed close to home.

When he accepted the position of Washington Redskins executive vice president/head coach in January, Mike Shanahan liked the idea of "going away" for training camp to build his team in his image.

But after viewing the considerable meeting space and pristine practice fields at Redskins Park and hearing stories about the huge fan support the team received at the club's Ashburn, Va. facility during recent camps, he changed his mind.

"I have heard about the passionate fans and the huge, enthusiastic crowds that come out to support our team during training camp," says Shanahan. "I'm looking forward to sharing in this experience for the first time. Training camp is the time our players build their identity as a team, and we are pleased to begin laying the foundation for the 2010 season in front of Redskins Nation."

Here's a look at the number of NFL teams that stayed home for training camp the past 10 years:

NFL teams keeping camp at home
Teams at home for camp
Teams at home for camp
5 of 31 (16 percent)
13 of 32 (41 percent)
7 of 32 (22 percent)
17 of 32 (53 percent)
12 of 32 (38 percent)
14 of 32 (44 percent)
12 of 32 (38 percent)
14 of 32 (44 percent)
15 of 32 (47 percent)
17 of 32 (53 percent)

The Saints' dream 2009 season began with a home training camp before culminating with the franchise's first NFL title. The club decided to remain in Metairie, La. for the first time at the Saints practice facility for training camp last summer.

"As NFL training facilities evolve and develop, there is a trend to want to maximize the exposure your team has to all of the amenities that help make training camp successful," says New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis. "Training camp is a very physically and mentally demanding period of time for the players, and by being able to utilize our facilities, we feel like it is the best decision that we can make for our team."

The numbers may prove home-base popularity is a growing league-wide trend, but there are still teams employing the "old-time" philosophy of encamping away. And they just might know something.

Before the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV victory, the previous four NFL champions all trained away from home at college training sites, starting with the Pittsburgh Steelers (XL, XLIII) and continuing with the Indianapolis Colts (XLI) and New York Giants (XLII).

"You could just feel the way that the team was coming together, and it went through the whole year," says New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, whose team trained at SUNY-Cortland last summer en route to an AFC Championship Game appearance. The club recently extended its agreement with the university through 2012.

"The trends that started here at Cortland continue," says Johnson. "Those kinds of traditions are very important."

There may be two NFL schools of thought when it comes to where to train, but the debate rages on. When it comes down to it, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz thinks how they train is even more important than where they train.

"In Tennessee, we did it both ways," says Schwartz, who spent 10 years with the Titans, including his last eight as defensive coordinator, before earning his first head-coaching opportunity last year. "We went away. We stayed home. We were successful both ways."


Two teams -- the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs -- will encamp at new training sites this year. The Cowboys will once again return to the Alamodome in San Antonio for a portion of camp, but will also spend time in Oxnard, Calif. and Dallas.

While some clubs have changed their training bases in the past decade, others return to familiar venues where they have spent their summer months for years.

The NFL training camp longevity king? The Green Bay Packers, who return on July 30 for their 53rd consecutive summer at St. Norbert College in DePere, Wis.

Longest active NFL training camp tenures
Training camp
St. Norbert College
DePere, Wis.
Minnesota State Mankato
Mankato, Minn.
Saint Vincent College
Latrobe, Pa.



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