Shutdown Corner - NFL

It's only three days into the season and I have one sore ass body. If five different NFL camps have proven anything to me, it's that there is no way to fully prepare my body to take the beatings of football. I've tried working out twice a day, working out in altitude, racing my dog up and down the driveway, I've even tried sitting on my ass. Whether its preseason rest or work I've felt like dog [excrement] within the first week, progressively getting worse year after year. I think that’s what makes training camp so dreaded by all of us going through it.

Whether or not I feel like practicing,  it's gonna happen ... over…and over ... and over again. We will actually hit the field for "practice" over 50 times before we play the NYG in the season opener. What has recently become important in my career is a pre-practice routine. 

The evolution of this routine has been very interesting. As a rookie I showed up in the locker room around an hour early, put all my [stuff] on as fast as possible and sat nervously on my stool counting the minutes down. Even into my first season I was just as nervous for practice as I was for games. Sounds crazy, but Joe Gibbs was demanding.

I feel that this season I have begun a new and much improved routine. A couple factors have changed my mind set for pre-practice. First, obviously I do not get nervous for practice, that's a mistake which makes practice much more horrible than it already is. Second, although I feel like my body is in much better shape than 2004, it seems to take much longer to loosen up (maybe I'm just becoming more of a bitch). Finally, I seem to need an added 30 minutes to bull[expletive] with everyone around the training and locker room.

The new routine begins with about a 15 minute session with Todd Yoder about the better ways to do almost anything. I then make my way toward the hot tub. A shower is recommended before entering the tub, there is actually a sign posted above the tub noting this, but I think I may be the only player on the team to follow the rule. It's always pretty gross, usually little bits floating around on top of all the foam bubbles. Still, its part of the routine and I've deemed completely necessary in my preparation. Everyone showers coming out of the hot tub, big surprise there.

Training room is the next stop along the way. A couple years ago our training staff implemented foam rollers. Early on they were neglected by players, but have now become very popular. They are used to roll knots out of your legs, which may be one of the most unbearable pains I've ever felt. A player will put all of his weight on top of the roller and ease the roll over whatever spot you’re working on. Even as terrible as the knot roller is, it helps so much down the road and the more often the roller is used the less pain is involved.

After the foam roller, I go for a stretch. Static stretching is kind of going out of style, but serves its purpose for me. Usually takes about ten minutes for me but then I am loose. Then it's on to the shoe spat. Ankle taping is recommended, but I stick with just a spat which is pretty much just covering the shoes in tape. Looks cool, but provides no support.

The highlight of the day usually comes in the form of a surprise. On the way out the door there is always a new crude video to watch. Today was "Two girls one milkshake" and I was dry heaving for minutes after. Gross and fun at the same time. Needless to say I had a hard time forcing down the Advil (4) before I made my way out to the field.

This routine happens every day. If I don't get time to make all these things happen I'm pissed and practice may as well be ruined before I set foot on the field.

Chris Cooley is a Pro Bowl tight end for the Washington Redskins and blogs every Wednesday here on Shutdown Corner. Read more from Cooley on his personal blog, where he gets awesome all the time.

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