While some veteran quarterbacks believe that their responsibilities to their new teams extend only to that which happens after training camp begins, others go out of their way to own a role that involves leadership and team chemistry.
So it is with new Redskins signal-caller Donovan McNabb(notes), who is not only working like a dog at the Fischer Center near his offseason home in Phoenix - he's also inviting his teammates to join him for what McNabb calls "Hell Week". As a tune-up for the team's training camp, which begins on July 29, McNabb told every receiver, tight end, and running back that they were all welcome to join him for a concentrated week of work that began last Monday.
"I think it's important for the specialists on the offense to have that chemistry, to have that bond," McNabb recently told Rick Maese of the Washington Post, "where they can trust me and I can trust them."
McNabb has done this for years, inviting his Philadelphia Eagles teammates in previous seasons, and those Redskins who attended found themselves looking at detailed itineraries and early wake-up calls. Brett Fischer, who acts as McNabb's trainer, told Maese about the effect these sessions have had on McNabb's compadres. "I think it's an eye opener for them, comparing themselves with their quarterback, with how hard he's working out here," he said. "To me, it's him telling them, 'Hey, I'm taking this thing seriously to the next level. Let's go to the next level.'"
Maese detailed the proposed regimen:
The daily routine focuses on the athlete's core -- abdominals, the lower back, gluteal muscles and hips -- and involves everything from traditional weights to resistance bands. Fischer likes to focus on balance, flexibility, joints and areas that most athletes tend to ignore in their regular workouts. The group also will spend plenty of time on cardio by running steep hills in the desert heat until they finally take a break in the early afternoon.
"People, when they come in here and they see what he does, they're shocked," Fischer says. "They go, 'Man, he pays attention to every little detail in the workout.' And he's here from 8 o'clock until 10 o'clock. They go, 'I didn't realize he worked this hard. I didn't realize he had all the flexibility, all the core, all the lifting, all the things done for his body.'"
After those workouts, the participants switch to a nearby field, where McNabb would throw to his new teammates, developing a familiarity with specific routes and getting everyone that much closer to a mutual understanding of the Mike Shanahan West Coast Offense (which isn't exponentially different than the Andy Reid West Coast Offense and the Jim Zorn West Coast Offense, except that the Shanahan version seems to allow for effective running plays in short-yardage situations). It also firmly establishes McNabb as the leader of the offense, which will be required if he is to help Shanahan turn the team around.
"Some guys tend to go off on their own, work out on their own and do their own thing," Redskins receiver Devin Thomas(notes) told Maese of the idea. "But for him to really collectively try to gather the guys that he knows are going to be key components in our offense, and get us all together to work for about a week, is a great thing that he's doing. It'll help us all out."
Beats riding a tractor, and throwing to local high-schoolers, any day.