Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Arthur Jones, who is accustomed to lugging around a hefty playbook each August, was pleasantly surprised when he was handed a 1.3-pound tablet computer at training camp this year.
"I love it," Jones said of the team-issued iPad. "It's a lot easier to carry that around than a big playbook."
When Ravens officials bought 120 iPads in the off-season they were looking to do more than lighten their players' load. Replacing the once-ubiquitous three-ring binder was a bonus — though most teams already used DVDs instead — but the main purpose of switching to an electronic playbook was to make a daunting amount of information available to each player in one place.
The ease of watching video on tablet computers has made them increasingly popular with players and scouts, but experiments by the Ravens and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hint at an N.F.L. future in which the devices could play a more prominent role. Beyond their function as playbooks, tablet devices can act as film sessions, nutrition guides and work calendars.