Training camp unofficially started for the Detroit Lions on Tuesday.
For some players, anyway.
Although the team has been training since late last week, Jim Schwartz, the coach, had them in full pads for the first time on Tuesday. The rise in intensity was obvious, especially after a lacklustre session on Monday morning.
"We finally got to knock the dust off," Brandon Pettigrew, the tight end, said. "You prepare during the entire off-season to build up to training camp, even if it was a little different this year. But it isn't the same until you get the pads on and actually get to do some hitting."
One notable absence was Nick Fairley, the rookie defensive tackle, who was in a walking boot after injuring his foot on Monday. X-rays showed no injury, but Schwartz said Fairley was undergoing more tests. Schwartz had said as late as Monday that he did not know when the team's first full-padded practice would be, but his disappointment in that day's workout made the decision.
"These are football players, and they want to be in football situations," he said. "You could see the intensity pick up as soon as they got into pads."
One day in pads, though, will not solve Schwartz's other problems in the new post-lockout NFL - issues he shares with 31 other head coaches. The Lions have more than 20 players who are unable to train until the league year officially begins, because free agents can sign with teams but are not allowed to practice with them until today, when the new agreement is completed. And when the sidelined players are allowed to work out, that likely means another day without pads.
"Even Kyle Vanden Bosch, who is as fanatical as anyone about being in shape, told me that he needed a couple days to get his football legs back," Schwartz said. "We don't know where these 23 or 24 guys fall on that spectrum."
The other change, of course, is the elimination of twice a day workouts. Normally, the Lions would have followed up Tuesday's full-padded practice with another tough workout in the afternoon.
Now they are reduced to a short walkthrough.
"People are calling it practice," Schwartz said of the second session. "Even Allen Iverson could walk through with no helmets and everything. It's a walk-through without helmets. Technically it's a two-a-day, but when the second practice is a walkthrough, I don't view it as a two-a-day."
Although Schwartz sees the elimination of two-a-days as a loss of crucial coaching time, his players do not have the same opinion.
"There's not one person here who is upset about losing that second practice," Corey Williams, the veteran defensive tackle, said.
"Nobody is sad about that."