The St. Louis Rams, led by Sam Bradford, are off to a good start as far as player organized workouts. The face of the franchise and team leader is teaching the offensive players the nuts and bolts of the Josh McDaniels blueprint. The second-year quarterback has taken over the leadership role along with James Laurinaitis and Ron Bartell. This three-headed leadership group organized Camp St. Louis last week at Lindenwood University, where 31 players attended a three-day player minicamp.
Former retired Rams receiver Torry Holt and defensive back Corey Chavous displayed good coaching skills, passing on knowledge and technique that helped in the development of skill set while players worked to impress. Bradford had organized several other passing camps in Houston. There will be one soon in Arizona and another in an undisclosed location around the country.
Despite the absence of the defensive line and other key players like leader Steven Jackson (presently in Paris, France), first-round pick Robert Quinn (helped the people of Haiti) and several players nursing injuries, it still was a good turnout and extremely refreshing to see the Rams out there throwing the ball, competing and pushing each other to get better. Practices consisted of ropes, cones, bags and a 7-on-7 passing period, after an hour-and-a-half weightlifting session.
While several teams are struggling to get a majority of players together at a single location, many players are on their own when it comes to working out and have gone in several directions. While many players are creatures of habit and will create a workout regimen based on the past year’s routines, others have sought out other opportunities that they would not normally do.
Several players are seeking out some radical training methods and non-traditional methods of keeping themselves in shape as they get ready for the 2011 season. Some of the exercises are not the same as the normal football drill work, like explosive weight-room training, core work, sprints and stretching. Instead, many players have hired or are attending sessions on their own that include ultimate fighting techniques and training, yoga, boxing, rope work (long extremely heavy thick rope), tractor tire lifting and kick boxing.
A cardio workout that is becoming famous among college and professional athletes is the Jailhouse workout. A 15-minute cardio workout is done as a warmup (no rest between reps moving from one station to another), consisting of push-ups on medicine balls, negative pull-ups, stationary bike riding, sand bag bench press, nautilus incline, back sled, sand bag cleans and pulls, several reps of barbell curls, dips, high steps and jumping rope. As one player source told me, “The Jailhouse will kick your butt if you are not mentally ready for it. It is a challenging 15 minutes.”
A lot of players work to increase their footwork and agility through cone drills, foot quickness along with change of direction drill work with short area burst and acceleration and the ability to stop and re-start several times. Several have hired workout gurus to help maintain and push them to get better in every area of physical fitness and mental toughness.
While all routines are the player’s choice during this lockout, they find themselves taking a different approach to getting ready than they have in the past. Many design their own workout program like Jerry Rice did for years, which was so rugged that players that tried it either could not finish it or if they were lucky enough to finish most of them never returned for a second time through. As in the past, the bottom line for football players is the weight-room workouts must be a huge part of their routine, along with core workouts, stretching and running and endurance so players learn to operate a drill finish it while thinking clearly.
The interesting analysis into the future is tracking player injuries and how they will be related to these offseason workout sessions (no OTA’s and running sessions). Let’s pray it will be no more than what we usually see.