I'm looking forward to Big Red's mandatory minicamp next week. This is where it starts to get serious.
When you have OTAs, these "voluntary" workouts, they are often accompanied by a spirit of working together, a spirit of community. As soon as you say it's mandatory, like minicamp, it suddenly feels like you're competing for jobs and the spirit of team and community could just fly out the window.
Although players have in essence been competing for weeks and coaches have asserted themselves for weeks, things change when you practice in minicamp.
Coaches coach harder. The intensity level picks up because now you're on their time, now you belong to them, and if you're not ready to get better today get off the field. The tone, tempo and tenure changes and the coaching staff is responsible for setting that table.
And players can tell the difference. Minicamp, to some degree, signals the start of hostilities. That truth starts to impact relationships between veterans and new guys trying to take their job. Players start sizing each other up, wondering how it's going to go in training camp, and veterans on the bubble stop helping newbies.
Starting next week, community is over and competition begins. Time to strap on the boots and scrape up the knuckles.