Back to work!

Back to sweating in the summer heat, learning playbooks that are so big they make “War and Peace” look like a comic book.

Back to rookies fighting for their first NFL jobs, free agents fighting to stay on an NFL roster, fighting with teammates on the field as things get heated, along with the weather.

Back to sleeping in dorms for the first time since they were in college.

It’s back to work for all 32 NFL teams. For New England, it’s the hunter now becoming the hunted, as the defending Super Bowl champs. For the other 31 teams, it’s their chance to replace them as the NFL’s king of the mountain, so to speak.

NFL clubs will begin their on-field preparations for Kickoff 2017 this week, starting Wednesday, July 19 as rookies for the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints are scheduled to report.

The Arizona Cardinals, who will take on the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game (Thursday, August 3 on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern), will be the first team with a full squad in camp when their rookies and veterans report on Friday, July 21. By Saturday, July 29, every NFL team will be in camp.

This year, more than half the league (21 of 32, 66 percent) will be “staying home” for training camp. Teams considered to be “staying home” hold training camp at their respective practice facility, home stadium or at a site within 10 miles of their team headquarters. In 2000, only 10 of 31 (32 percent) teams stayed close to home.

“Our entire organization is excited to be returning to hold training camp at our facility in Metairie in 2017,” Saints owner Tom Benson told the Mobile Register and WKRG-TV. “This will be a great opportunity for our passionate fans from throughout the Gulf South to be able to experience the fun, excitement and interaction of Saints training camp as our team prepares for what we expect to be a very exciting season.”

The numbers may prove that training at home is a popular league-wide trend but there are still teams employing the “old-time” philosophy of holding camp away from their facilities.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the teams that “come together” away from home, holding camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania for the 52nd consecutive year.

“There’s some intrinsic value to being here, some things that you can’t measure,” says Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on holding training camp at St. Vincent College. Tomlin told KDKA-TV, “Those are things that I think about when I think about training camp and those are the things that make me really excited about bringing a team to an environment like this.”

The NFL training camp longevity king? The Green Bay Packers, who return for their 60th consecutive summer at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Here’s a look at the number of NFL teams that stayed home for training camp since 2000:

YEAR – NFL TEAMS WITH HOME TRAINING CAMPS (PCT.)

2000 – 10 of 31 (32%)
2001 –  9 of 31 (29%)
2002 – 10 of 32 (31%)
2003 – 14 of 32 (44%)
2004 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2005 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2006 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2007 – 16 of 32 (50%)
2008 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2009 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2010 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2011 – 19 of 32 (59%)
2012 – 19 of 32 (59%)
2013 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2014 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2015 – 21 of 32 (66%)
2016 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2017 – 21 of 32 (66%)
Overall – 295 of 574 (52%)

*Teams considered to be “staying home” hold training camp at their practice facility, home stadium or at a site within 10 miles of their team headquarters.

The longest active NFL training camp tenures:

TEAM – TRAINING CAMP, CITY (YEARS)
Green Bay Packers – Saint Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin (60)
Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota State University, Mankato, Mankato, Minnesota (52)
Pittsburgh Steelers – Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania (52)

Veterans will be looking to keep their jobs, while rookies and free agents fight for that coveted roster spot. That spot means a paycheck. It’s going to be hot. They’ll be sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, they’ll fight heat, humidity, bugs and in some cases each other.

The playbooks will be bigger than the textbooks they used in college, making “War and Peace” look like a comic book. Meetings with coaches in their positions, pre-season games that will determine their futures will take place and in the end, they’ll either be on a roster or they’ll get that knock on the door from a coach or support staff member and the dreaded words “Coach wants to see you and bring your playbook.” That usually means you’re getting cut.

Some camps will have their rookies come in first to get used to being in camp, while others will have everyone come in at one time. For some, it will be like riding a bike. For others, it’s sort of like learning to walk again. It’s not easy. Most teams will play four pre-season contests (Dallas and Arizona will play five because they are playing in the Hall of Fame Game). Some say the pre-season is too long and needs to be cut back to one or two games, like our CFL neighbors to the north.

Below is the training camp list of sites and rookie and veteran reporting dates. Check with your team for dates and if practices will be open to the public. Hydrate, stock up on that bug spray (the mosquitoes in the South have been known to carry off small children) and mind your manners and watch out for your cousin Connie. She’s been known to wipe out a Super Bowl party.

AFC
Baltimore – Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Maryland (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Buffalo – St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Cincinnati – Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati (Rookies report 7/25, Veterans report 7/27)
Cleveland – Cleveland Browns Training Complex, Berea, Ohio (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
Denver – University of Colorado Health Training Center in Englewood, Colorado, (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
Houston – The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/25)
Indianapolis – Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis, Indiana (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/29)
Jacksonville – Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields in Jacksonville, Florida (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Kansas City – Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/27)
Los Angeles Chargers – Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, California (Rookies and Veterans report 7/29)
Miami – Baptist Health Training Facility in Davie, Florida (Rookies report 7/20, Veterans report 7/26)
New England – Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/26)
New York Jets – Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey (Rookies and Veterans report 7/28)
Oakland – Napa Valley Marriott in Napa, California (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/28)
Pittsburgh – Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Tennessee – Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tennessee (Rookies and Veterans report 7/28)

NFC
Arizona – University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona (Rookies and Veterans report 7/21)
Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Carolina – Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina (Rookies and Veterans report 7/25)
Chicago – Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Dallas – Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, California (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/22)
Detroit – Detroit Lions Training Facility in Allen Park, Michigan (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/29)
Green Bay – St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Los Angeles Rams – University of California at Irvine (Rookies report 7/26, Veterans report 7/28)
Minnesota – Minnesota State University at Mankato (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
New Orleans – New Orleans Saints Training Facility in Metairie, Louisiana (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
New York Giants – Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Philadelphia – NovaCare Training Complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
San Francisco – SAP Performance Facility in Santa Clara, California (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Seattle – Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Washington (Rookies and Veterans report 7/29)
Tampa Bay – One Buccaneer Place on Tampa, Florida (Rookies report 7/25, Veterans report 7/27)
Washington – Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Virginia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)

Note: The first official practice of training camp for each club at the site designated above is generally held the day after the veteran reporting date.

Advertisements