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5 key dates to keep an eye on this offseason

NFL teams that recently hired new coaches have already begun their offseason training programs, which means things are ramping up in the NFL offseason schedule.

Here are five important dates Detroit Lions fans should keep an eye on in the coming weeks and months:

1. April 18: Beginning of offseason training program for Lions

Clubs with returning head coaches can begin their offseason workout program on this date.

As per Article 21 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each club's official, voluntary nine-week offseason program is conducted in three phases:

  • Phase One consists of the first two weeks of the program with activities limited to meetings, strength and conditioning, and physical rehabilitation only.
  • Phase Two consists of the next three weeks of the program. On-field workouts may include individual or group instruction and drills, as well as "perfect play drills," and drills and plays with offensive players lining up across from offensive players and defensive players lining up across from defensive players, conducted at a walk through pace. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
  • Phase Three consists of the next four weeks of the program. Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity (OTAs). No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

View photos of the top quarterback prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.

2. April 28-30: NFL Draft in Las Vegas

The three-day event is probably the third biggest on the NFL schedule outside of the Super Bowl and opening week of the regular season.

The first round will be conducted Thursday April 28 starting at 8 p.m. Rounds 2 & 3 will take place Friday April 29 starting at 7 p.m. The draft will conclude with Rounds 4-7 starting at noon on Saturday, April 30.

The Lions have nine total picks in the draft and five picks in the top 97, including two in the first round (2 & 32).

3. May 2: Fifth-year option deadline

The deadline for teams to pick up the fifth-year option for players drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The salaries are based on position, playtime, and performance, and are guaranteed at the time the option is exercised.

The Lion have until May 2 to pick up the option on tight end T.J. Hockenson, which Lions general manager Brad Holmes told reporters at NFL owners meetings last week the team intends to do. The option will pay Hockenson right around $10.9 million for the 2023 season, but Holmes also said the team could work out a long-term deal before he has to play on the option.

4. May 24-26, June 1-3, June 13-16: Lions OTAs

Phase Three of the offseason training program consists of a total of 10 OTA practices. One in every three of these OTA practices has to be open in its entirety to the media.

No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed. It will be our first look at some of the new Lions players like wide receiver DJ Chark, cornerback Mike Hughes and linebacker Jarrad Davis.

5. June 5-7: Lions mandatory minicamp

Article 22 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that clubs may hold one mandatory minicamp for veteran players. This minicamp must occur during Phase Three of the offseason program.

The minicamp is a competitive three-day practice period, without contact. Teams use this time to evaluate who came in ready to work and who got better over the course of OTAs. It's a chance for players to put a final impression on coaches before the summer break and the start of training camp around six weeks later.

View photos of NFL prospect Jameson Williams.

Also keep an on eye: Schedule release (May)

We already know the opponents, but we get to find out the dates & times for the Lions 2022 schedule at some point in May, timing TBD.

Detroit will play each team from the NFC East and AFC East in their yearly rotation of NFC and AFC division matchups. The Lions will also play the last place teams from the NFC South, NFC West and AFC South during next season's 17-game schedule.

Detroit will host division rivals Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota, and will also welcome Philadelphia, Washington, Buffalo, Miami, Jacksonville and Seattle to Ford Field next season.

Detroit will hit the road for games against Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas, New York Giants, New York Jets, New England and Carolina.

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