Despite a seven-day extension in talks between the NFL and the players' association, players are starting to look ahead and plan for an offseason that doesn't keep in step with the rhythm of the league year.
Players are starting to form plans that would include working out together, but Darrelle Revis is wary of that idea. The cornerback held out of training camp last season wrangling for a new contract with the Jets, which he eventually got, but the first half of his season was marred by a series of quad injuries.
He looks at that and thinks that if there is a season without training camp, the players will ultimately pay the price.
"It won't work," said Revis. "Just looking at my situation of holding out and me trying to hurry up and come back and play -- say this thing carries on until July, I think a lot of guys are going to get hurt because we haven't been to OTAs, we haven't been in that mode of football. Yeah, you can work out, I was working out when I held out, but it's a different level."
Nothing prepares you for a contact sport, explained Revis, like actual contact.
If the extensions don't bring about an agreement between the league and the players' association, Revis and his fellow players face an extended offseason with no organized team activities or minicamps in the spring. If the stalemate continues, then training camp is at risk. Without training camp, players could have a much shorter period to prepare for the rigors of the season.
Dallas tight end Jason Witten said Cowboys players are ready to work together as a unit to make sure things stay on course.
"I think there's a plan in place, leaders are taking charge and letting it unfold in the next week," Witten said. "If it is prolonged, there are plans to say, 'Hey, let's get together, let's do these things.' And ultimately that's where you give yourself an edge as a team and an individual."
Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver for the Cardinals, said Arizona players were thinking along the same lines.
"The guys under contract who want to work out with our ballclub are more than welcome to," Fitzgerald said. "Things are not mandatory or team run, and we hope it gives us an advantage once competition starts again next season."
As one of the leaders on the Jets, LaDainian Tomlinson said it would be up to veterans and leaders like himself and quarterback Mark Sanchez to plan bonding weekends. Even if there is no training camp, the players will ultimately be expected to be ready for prime time, so they need to stick together on and off the field.
"All the owners are not on the same page because they don't make all the same kind of money," Tomlinson said. "So there's no way they can be, so for us as players we have to be strong and stand strong."
But with an extension on the table, some hope it may not come to that.
"Hopefully the collective bargaining agreement is reached next week and we'll be able to do everything the same as we always have," Fitzgerald said.