In a curious move, the Bears on Sunday evening cut a week out of their organized team activities schedule.
Voluntary OTAs were set to begin May 25 after the veterans come in for conditioning work this week under phase two of the offseason program. However, phase 3 are the OTAs and they now will begin June 1 for the Bears. The June sessions remain the same, from June 1-3 and from June 7 to June 10.
The mandatory veteran minicamp is still set for June 15 to June 17.
It's possible the change is related to the lack of participation teams have been seeing in the first phase of offseason work from veteran players.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported the NFL Players Association said only 38% of all NFL players took part in the first phase of voluntary work, which included Zoom meetings.
Teams use these periods to install their offenses and defenses so it doesn't need to be done almost entirely at training camp.
The lack of participation league-wide has been traced back to the union's recommendations that players avoid the voluntary work because of COVID-19 concerns, even amid the growing percentage of the population now vaccinated. The union has long been against all of the "voluntary" offseason work.
Pro Football Talk reported the union encouraged players to negotiate changes to the offseason program's with their coaches and it's possible the Bears change is related to this, although the team has not announced this.