Allen Park — The true NFL offseason is upon us, an approximately five-week long break from mid-June to the start of training camp in late July. And while it’s a great time to get away before the long grind of the season begins, Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia doesn’t want football to be far from his players’ minds.
“You know, obviously it’s still a critical time for the team,” Patricia said. “From a team perspective, we’ve got to make sure that everybody’s ready to go, staying in shape, making sure that they’re following a program. We’ll talk to them, making sure they have everything handled, from a place to work out, from a program to follow, what we expect when they get back.
“When we get into training camp, we don’t have a lot of time when we get into training camp, so we have to hit this thing running, so we’ll just do the best we can to educate them on that and I’m sure we’ll be good to go.”
Beyond the physical aspect, Patricia also wants his players keep their noses in the playbook.
“You know, their bodies are obviously the biggest thing for them, but there is a mental part of this that they need to keep up with and stay on top of,” Patricia said. “Review the material, hopefully have some questions when we get back to training camp that they’re asking and we can answer for them and keeping the process rolling.”
The Lions wrap up their OTAs this week and will be back on the practice field the final week of July, with the rookies returning a week earlier. The team opens its preseason slate Aug. 10 against the Oakland Raiders, and are holding a pair of joint practices with the Raiders in the days leading up to the matchup.
The team also has joint practices lined up with the New York Giants the following week, at the Lions’ practice facility in Allen Park.
“I think it’s always good to get the opportunity to practice against other teams early in training camp,” Patricia said. “It’s something, from a long time ago, that I learned that at some point in training camp the guys just get tired of hitting each other.
“You’re hitting the same guy for three weeks in a row. And you want to continually try to improve as you go through training camp so to bring that extra level of motivation, or experience, or different level of competition and get a different look.”
As for Patricia, as a first-year head coach, he knows he’ll struggle to disconnect from the job the next several weeks, but also wants to make sure he squeezes in as much family time as possible before he begins the 100-plus hour work weeks.
“I mean my family’s first and foremost,” he said. “So I got to make sure I’m a good dad here and a good husband for a little while and then we’ll be back to camp before we know it."