Training Camp Glossary

With the Patriots reporting to Gillette Wednesday morning a day ahead of their first practice of 2019, football is officially back!


With the Patriots reporting to Gillette Wednesday morning a day ahead of their first practice of 2019, football is officially back! Training camp is like no other time on the NFL calendar, partially because has more football jargon than any other event. Some of it is pretty obvious, while some terms may be a bit more obscure given they’re only used less than one month out of the year. In order to help sort through some of the lingo as we approach the first practice of the year, I’ve put together a helpful dictionary with some of the more prevalent terms you’ll hear for the next month…

Blocking Sled- Practice device that had one or several pads lined up to resemble an offensive or defensive line. Used to help linemen work on their drive, hand placement and footwork. Ex. David Andrews drove the blocking sled back 5 yards on his own.

The Bubble- The indoor fieldhouse adjacent to the Patriots practice fields. Serves as the team’s indoor practice facility during inclement weather. Ex. There were thunderstorms today, so the Patriots held practice in The Bubble.

Camp Body- A player who has little to no shot of making the final roster. Usually there to help with depth or serve a specific role on the scout team. For quarterbacks, this is often referred to as a ‘Camp Arm’. Ex. Many people thought Malcolm Butler was a camp body his rookie year, but he turned out to be much more.

Camp- Shorthand for ‘Training Camp’. Ex. JC Jackson had a great camp last year.

Carry Pads- A traditional right of passage in the NFL, rookies are often tasked with carrying their teammates helmets and shoulder pads back to the locker room at the end of practice. Ex. Danny Etling carried pads for the QBs last year, but now it’s Jarrett Stidham’s turn.

Charting- Keeping track of stats that players post during drills. Usually reserved for quarterbacks and kickers. There is some debate as to whether the stats collected by charting are viable for evaluation in this setting. Ex. Tom Brady was 7/9 in 7-on-7s, according to the reporters who were charting the drill.

Crossbar Game- Game played by special teams players to pass the time during other drills. Those participating stand at a predetermined distance and angle to the field goal post, and attempt to throw or kick the football to hit as close to the intersection of the goal post stand and crossbar as possible. Ex. Ryan Allen won the crossbar game more than anybody else at practice today.

Dante’s Inferno- The hill behind the Patriots practice fields the team runs sprints on at the end of each practice. Named for Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who uses the area for conditioning drills for the linemen. Ex. Practice must almost be over, the players are heading back to Dante’s Inferno.

Depth Casualty- A player who is good enough to be on the 53-man roster, but is cut/traded because there are too many players who are more talented ahead of him on the depth chart. Ex. Even though he had NFL talent, Cre’Von LeBlanc was a depth casualty at the end of Patriots training camp in 2016. 

Full-contact practice- Practices where players are wearing full pads (as opposed to Shells, see below). Usually the best practices to watch/evaluate linemen and other players whose game relies on physicality. The CBA limits the number of such practices held during training camp. Ex. the first full-contact practice of the year is always a fun day to watch. 

Hang Time- The amount of time between when a punt leaves the punters foot, and when it’s fielded by the returner or hits the ground. Will be a popular topic of discussion at this year’s Patriots training camp. Ex. Jake Bailey’s hang time is ridiculously good.

The Hill- See Dante’s Inferno

Holdout- When a player refuses to report to training camp until he is given a new/restructured contract from the team. Can sometimes lead to players sitting out games and/or being traded. Ex. Tom Brady is still waiting for a new contract, but it doesn’t look like a holdout is in his future.

Joint Practice- When two teams hold a training camp practice together, usually competing against each other in order to see players against fresh/different competition. Usually teams will hold two or three joint practices leading up to a pre-season game. Ex. The Patriots are heading to Nashville a few days early to hold joint practices with the Titans before their preseason game.

Lap- When coaches tell a player to run (usually the distance around the field) following a mistake, penalty, fight, etc. Ex. Deatrich Wise jumped offsides, so Bill Belichick made him run a lap.

Make-Or-Break Summer- A player who needs to have a strong performance in training camp/the preseason in order to make the roster. Ex. This will be a make-or-break summer for Danny Etling.

The Mallett- A player who excels during training camp drills, but that success doesn’t translate to games. Named for former Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett. Ex. Ryan Mallett popped at practice today. A first round arm talent.

Non-Contact Jersey- A jersey worn by a player indicating that no other players should hit him, even during a full-contact practice. Usually a third color from the team’s offensive and defensive practice jerseys (in the Patriots case, red). Always worn by quarterbacks, they may also be given to players at other positions who are practicing despite an injury. Ex. If you hit a player in a Non-Contact Jersey, you’ll probably have to run a lap.

Oklahoma- A drill where two players, one holding line up 6 yards apart in a narrow lane defined by cones or other players and run at each other. Whoever drives the other person back wins. In some variations of the drill, two more players are added, an offensive and defensive lineman. Once a staple of preseason workouts, it was banned by the NFL before the 2019 season due to high risk of injury. Named for former Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson, who invented the drill. Ex. Legarrette Blount was the best at Oklahomas.

On The Bubble- When a player is assumed to be off the 53-man roster, but in a position to earn his way on, either through good play or an injury. Ex. Given the limited guaranteed money on his contract, some believe Jamie Collins is On The Bubble as the Patriots open training camp.

Position Battle- When two or more players are competing for either a spot on the depth chart, or a spot on the roster. The main storylines of training camp. Ex. The Patriots have a major position battle going on at tight end this year in training camp.

PUP- The Physically Unable To Perform List. Called P-U-P or ‘Pup list’. Players listed on PUP are not eligible to practice until they are activated. If not activated by the beginning of the season, they must sit out at least the first six weeks of the season. Players cannot be added to the PUP list once they have participated in a practice. Ex. Sony Michel is opening the season on the PUP list, but if it’s not a serious injury he should be back by Week 1. 

Rep- a. A single runthrough of a drill. Ex. That was a great rep for Chase Winovich on the punchout drill. He forced and recovered the fumble. b. A snap, in reference to how much a player is playing in team drills. Ex. With Sony Michel starting camp on PUP, there should be plenty of reps for Damien Harris.

Roster Lock- A player who has zero chance to be traded or released before the season. Ex. Tom Brady is a roster lock.

Roster Projection- An in-the-moment evaluation of the team’s final 53-man roster. Ex. Did you see who Evan left off his roster projection?

Shells- Limited pads, usually just the helmet and shoulder pads with shorts instead of football pants. Worn for non-contact practices. Due to provisions in the CBA, most training camp practices are held in shells. Ex. The Patriots first two practices of training camp will be held in shells. 

UDFA- Undrafted free agent. A rookie who was not selected in the draft but signed with the team after. They usually have the longest chance to make the roster. Ex. The Patriots have had at least one UDFA make the team for 15 straight years.

1-On-1s- Any drill that pits two players from opposite sides up against the ball individually against each other. Includes WRs/DBs, RBs/LBs, OL/DL. Often the most competitive drills of training camp. Ex. Make sure to watch N’Keal Harry against Stephon Gilmore in 1-On-1s this August. 

7-On-7s- A passing drill that involves only the skill position players on offense and coverage linebackers and defensive backs on defense. Used to work on route combinations and coverage schemes. Doesn’t always have to be exactly 7 players vs 7 players, sometimes the numbers vary depending on what the coach wants to see. Besides 11-on-11s, this is the best drill to analyze quarterbacks. Ex. Tom Brady shredded the defense in 7-on-7s, but Devin McCourty did have an INT. 

11-on-11s- Full offense vs full defense drills. Normally against a scout team, used to prepare for specific opponents or situations. Can also be seen in two-minute drills and goal line drills. Usually played at walkthrough speed, although sometimes faster, but rarely 100% to prevent injuries. Ex. Watching Tom Brady lead 11-on-11 drills is a thing of beauty. 

To see these terms and more used in context, make sure to be following CLNS for all of our Patriots training camp coverage! It can be found on this website, on Twitter @PatriotsCLNS, and on the CLNS Media YouTube channel.