The first two phases of the offseason program were a solid beginning.
Now it's time to kick it up a notch.
This week marks the beginning of Phase III, in which the offense and defense are finally allowed to face off against each other. It consists of 10 voluntary Organized Team Activities, commonly known as OTAs, in addition to a mandatory minicamp in mid-June. While no live contact is permitted, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.
Suffice to say, the players are champing at the bit to get out there and finally compete.
"This what we've been waiting for," Jatavis Brown said with an ear-to-ear grin. "It's very exciting to actually play football against each other. It's always fun to go out and compete against each other."
Brown isn't the only Bolt to flash a big smile when talking about the start of OTas.
"Oh, I'm very excited to get out there," added Travis Benjamin. "Looking forward to showcasing my speed once again and burning a couple guys."
The wide receiver then gave a friendly glance over to Jahleel Addae, who was playfully eavesdropping on the conversation.
"I'm excited for OTAs too because we get to go up against guys like Travis Benjamin, who's really speedy," the safety said, before letting out a chuckle. "Go out there and shut him down! We can't put the pads on yet, but if I had the pads on, he'd feel me out there!"
Benjamin laughed as the two embraced with a handshake.
These types of interactions showcase the competitive nature of OTAs as well as the focus on building the team as one. Most importantly, while the players are out there to hone their skills, they certainly won't be going full blast.
After all, no contact is permitted…and the players absolutely don't want to lay into their teammates.
"On a serious note, we're all a team and trying to get better," Addae said. "Our goal is to win a Super Bowl, and tomorrow is a start. It's one step at a time."
"Exactly," added Benjamin, picking up where Addae left off. "At the end of the day it's all fun and games, but at the end of the day, we all know it's our competitive side that makes us all better."