Patrick Surtain II has a golden opportunity to not only start in his rookie season for the Denver Broncos, but become an instant impact player on a secondary that has the potential to be one of the best in NFL. Surtain wasn't skipping rookie minicamp because of advice from the NFLPA not to show up.
That wasn't even in the cards for Surtain, along with plenty of other rookies around the NFL. They don't have that "luxury" the veterans do, especially since they are playing for jobs.
"I was going to come up here and play regardless," Surtain said on a conference call at Broncos rookie minicamp. "I'm a rookie, and I don't have the advantage for me to talk or even miss mini camp. I don't have any proven ability to miss mini camp. I just have to go out here and practice and compete every day and get right with the playbook. There were no plans of missing mini camp."
The NFLPA recommended rookies stay home from offseason minicamp as a boycott to change the offseason formula, as part of the union's stance on boycotting voluntary OTAs -- which start Monday. During phase two of offseason workouts, the session lasts three weeks as all coaches are allowed on the field as individual and "perfect play" drills are allowed. No offense vs. defense in practice, along with no one-on-one drills and no helmets are allowed. Players and coaches will continue to meet virtually during phase two.
The NFLPA asked veteran players from all teams to boycott the voluntary portion of the offseason workout program -- even asking the rookies to skip minicamp. Many rookies, specifically picks past the third round, can't afford to miss valuable time.
"They're on their own (for the first time). They don't have school anymore, so they have to learn how to handle their free time constructively," Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said at rookie minicamp to reporters. "On the field, it's a different game. I told them last night, over a three- to five-year period, which is what a college stay goes for, there are over 800-900 colleges playing football and they all have over 100 guys on a roster. Now you're down to 32 teams to pick 53 on a roster and it's over a 10- to 15-year period.
"There are guys in their late 30s playing, late 20s. It's a man's league at the highest level of competition because of that. These guys have to be ready for that."
Rookie minicamps benefit the first-year players, which is why they are put in place. Surtain, and plenty of other rookies around the league, understand the situation they're in.