Mark your calendars - in pencil, not pen: The Redskins are hoping to begin training camp July 28.
General manager Bruce Allen said last week the team is planning to begin training camp 15 days before its scheduled preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 12. That's as early as the recently expired collective bargaining agreement allows.
A separate source familiar with the situation confirmed that July 28 is the target date to start camp.
Of course, whether camp starts on time depends on whether NFL owners and players reach some sort of labor peace. League business remains at a standstill because of the lockout that began March 12.
Also, a new collective bargaining agreement could change the rule that prevents teams from requiring players to report to training camp earlier than 15 days before their first preseason game. However, that's not believed to be a point of contention between players and owners.
Allen said team management is eager for players to arrive in camp as soon as possible after the offseason program was lost to the lockout.
Some NFL clubs that host their camps away from team headquarters, such as the Minnesota Vikings, have established deadlines for deciding whether they can proceed with their off-site plans. Labor uncertainty and logistical concerns prompted the Baltimore Ravens to abandon plans to hold camp at McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., where they have trained each summer since 1996.
The Redskins, however, hold camp at team headquarters in Ashburn, so they won't have to drastically change plans once the lockout is over. "We don't have a [labor peace deadline] date" for starting camp on time, Allen said Wednesday at the Athlete Awards Dinner at The University Club in Northwest.
After attending the owners' meeting near Chicago early last week, Allen said he feels "the same" amount of optimism that he did beforehand regarding whether camp will begin as scheduled.
"The more they talk the better," he said. "The more they negotiate for a CBA, the better. There is some urgency, obviously. Continuing dialogue is going to be critical."
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