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Mark Your Calendars: Important Upcoming NFL, Lions Dates

The NFL is really a year-round sport despite the fact games that count are only played from September to February.  While the regular season and playoffs are obviously the focal point of the NFL, the offseason can be just as entertaining and never really ends.  After all, as soon as a team's season is over, the focus quickly moves to preparing for free agency and the NFL Draft.  Once the main part of free agency commences and the draft is held, minicamps and OTAs start up, keeping the players and coaches occupied until there is a month or so "vacation" before training camp.  Once that gets underway, then it is only a blink of an eye until the preseason and regular season, starting the yearly cycle all over again.

We are past the first phase of free agency and the draft, meaning the real fun is set to begin soon -- actual football.  Since the end of last season the discussion has revolved around signings, trades, the combine, the draft, etc.  With minicamps and OTAs getting going, however, it will be nice to talk about some actual football instead of just the transactions setting up the team for the 2010 season.  In order to keep track of the final segment of the offseason, I compiled a list of dates from the NFL Labor blog that include when the Lions' OTAs and minicamps are, as well as some league-related dates for certain deadlines and events.  Check it out after the jump.

April 30-May 2: Lions Rookie Orientation (Minicamp)

May 4: Lions Organized Team Activity (OTA)

May 6: Lions OTA

May 11: Lions OTA

May 13: Lions OTA

May 18: Lions OTA

May 18: Lions Charity Bocce Ball Tournament

May 20: Lions OTA

May 24: Lions OTA

May 25: Lions OTA

May 24-26: NFL Spring Meeting in Dallas, TX

May 27: Lions OTA

June 1: Lions OTA

June 1: Deadline for unsigned restricted free agents' old teams to send a tender or extend their qualifying offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights

June 1: Deadline for unsigned unrestricted free agents' old teams to send a tender to receive exclusive negotiating rights for the rest of the season if that player isn't signed by another team by July 22

June 3: Lions OTA

June 8: Lions Invitational Golf Tournament

June 15: Deadline for teams to withdraw their original qualifying offer to unsigned restricted free agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting tender of 110% of previous year's salary

June 21: Lions OTA

June 22: Lions OTA

June 23-25: Lions minicamp

June 27-30: NFL Rookie Symposium in Carlsbad, CA

July 22: Signing period ends at 4:00 PM ET for unrestricted free agents who received June 1 tender

Late-July: Lions training camp begins

August 14: First Lions preseason game (at Pittsburgh)

August 31: First round of roster cuts (teams must be down to a maximum of 75 players)

September 4:  Final round of roster cuts (teams must be down to a maximum of 53 players)

September 12: First Lions regular season game (at Chicago)

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