Shutdown Corner - NFL

The end of the football offseason is fully underway as the NFL has progressively shortened the time between the last game and the first workout. Most players just spent the better part of the last four months working out with their team: hitting the weight room four or five times a week and attending mini-camp and OTA's (official team workouts). Most guys made the choice to show up for team activities simply because someone was keeping track, but whether they liked it or not, with over a month left before training camp, players are quicker, stronger and healthier.   

With teams so ready to start a football season, it's amazing to me is that we're now going to take five full weeks off. The Redskins finished the last official team work out on June 12 and don't begin training camp until July 19. There's nothing on the schedule for players to show up for between now and then.

It's like, bust your ass to get in shape, now take a month off. I mean, if you're not working every day, a month is more than enough time to lose considerable strength and endurance. Mentally I will be right where I left off for the summer, but it's unbelievable how quickly my body will forget what it had to go through to be ready for the field. 

As I walked out of the Redskins facility for the last day before the summer break, vacation plans were aplenty.  We have guys going all over the world, me included (at least all over the country). On July 2, I'll be heading to Wyoming to hang out with family for the last couple weeks before the training camp starts. The question is how many guys will be working, and how many will be drinking beers?

The rumor is that players can use training camp to get into shape. Twenty years ago that's exactly what happened. Teams ran conditioning drills for the first month and had guys puking all over the field. It's more like what today's high school two-a-days look like. Well, we don't do monkey rolls anymore, there's no "Oklahoma drill" and in the last four years I haven't ran one sprint or gasser as a part of practice. Players are expected to come ready to play. 

If teams really want players at their highest performance level then have guys stick around until closer to two weeks before camp starts. If you want to give players a little more time away from the game, then give it to them in March and April. If I'm coaching, I'd rather find out that my players are lying around on the beach having a couple drinks earlier in the year. I certainly don't want that happening with less than two weeks to training camp.

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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