The meaning of training camp

Posted by Darren Urban on July 16, 2012 – 8:14 am

Listening to the radio this morning on the way to the gym, I heard about some of the NBA player moves and how one guy got crossways with a coach because he didn’t come into training camp this past season in shape. The player thought training camp was when you should get in shape. The coach, obviously, thought camp was time to practice and that being in shape when a guy showed up was a given.

That’s certainly how it is in the NFL these days.

Once, the preseason was six games long and teams would spend weeks on end at camp. I remember talking to some of the long-time athletic trainers with the Cards and them talking about spending eight weeks at training camp. Ugh. But in those days, players often had offseason jobs to make enough money and camp was indeed to get in shape. These days, players make enough — even the guys on the fringe of the roster — to be able to dedicate themselves year-round to staying in shape. It’s a must.

(There’s a tough grey area for the guys who are on the bubble every year — no guaranteed salaries, remember, and you only get paid the significant money during the regular season, not camp — but they have to grin and bear it to have a chance to make it in the league.)

It’s not easy all the time. Dedication is a must, and you have to do it the right way. I was mulling it over, and off the top of my head, I could recall nose tackle Dan Williams, defensive lineman Nick Eason and wide receiver Stephen Williams all admitting they were out of shape in one way or another heading into camp last year after the lockout. We won’t get into ex-Cardinal Deuce Lutui.

Look, it’s not rocket science to figure out that the coaching staff would love to have the players around more than they are in the offseason. That’s how coaches are. The collective bargaining agreement says otherwise. But when most guys are driving forward on their own — Cardinals receiver Andre Roberts acknowledged the other day at Larry Fitzgerald’s camp that guys know “this is a year-round thing” — anyone doing otherwise won’t be in a good place once it’s time to go to Flagstaff.

Which, by the way, is only eight days away.

P.S. Speaking of workouts, click here for some pictures I shot in Minnesota of the Fitz camp.

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Posted in Blog | 24 Comments »

24 Responses to “The meaning of training camp”

  1. By Brent on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    I’m excited to see what the Cards can do this year. It seems like they are in a good place.

  2. By DontTakeLoses on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    Lol. Quatro (er Deuce). Go Cards. Btw, bravo to Cards for holding line on him. Institutionally, Cards getting it right, time after time. Reward the guys who do the right thing. Make em compete, every position, every year. Sweet.

  3. By jeffgollin on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    Darren – This indirectly raises a separate question about conditioning. One school holds that “you shouldn’t push too hard too early because you’ll wear down by season’s end.”

    The other – held by my track coach – believed that “hard conditioning work early-on pays off in better stamina later in the season.”


  4. By Darren Urban on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    jeffgollin —

    RE: Conditioning

    I think yes, you can overdo it.

    But mostly, I think that if your job is to be an athlete, you should be working out regularly. And if you are making money at it, it should be pretty intense.

  5. By Secret on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    This should be mandatory reading for every current and incoming players in the NFL! Deuce Lutui’s story is a very good example about how no matter how talented you are, being out of shape can cost you your job.

  6. By hummer53 on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    In past years I wouldn’t see Deuce at the Tempe LTF all summer and then about two weeks before camp he would appear with a friend or relative tagging along. Curious to see what happens to him in Seattle. I have seen Joey Porter all the time at LTF for last couple of years. Didn’t work out with the Cards but you can tell Joey still wants to squeeze in another year somewhere. And Darren, you are safe. No sightings of Donovan McNabb at LTF this year. Wonder if he moved away?

  7. By Sir60 on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    It’s your job. You were hired because of your physical ability. If your not prepared to do your job, you’ll soon be looking for another.

  8. By SteveG on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    GREAT pics from Fitz’s camp….Am I right in thinking this was during that heat wave back East? I started sweating looking at the pics…..

    I seem to recall reading that Jimmie Johnson attributed weight lifting during the season as one of the reasons his Dallas dynasty was so tough during play offs. I would imagine a little extra body fat (and I do mean little) would be a plus facing the needs in training camp…too little is truly bad for a body for even a short time like body building contests….and let’s face it, if you are a professional athlete these days and don’t have a professional nutritionist as well as a qualified training guru working with you, you are leaving money on the table….

    I scour my ‘google alert for the Cards. on a daily basis (I even read the “who is up or down” segments by guys that went to a cards game once and now blog about the team…desperate times)..Is it the same for you Darren? Or are you grateful for the calm before the O so much fun storm?

  9. By Darren Urban on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    SteveG —

    RE: Heat

    Actually, the weather wasn’t too bad the two days I was back there.

  10. By D on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    That is the difference between guaranteed $ in the NBA and the NFL when you can cut a player quickly.

    Your slide #16 with the guy to the left, reminds me of that Chevy Chase movie…6’9 with the hair….

  11. By Ernie on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    Is Brandon Keith still a free agent. Is there no interest in signing him to compete.

  12. By Darren Urban on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    Ernie —

    RE: Keith

    Brandon is still unsigned. Barring injury, I don’t expect him back, but things could change in camp.

  13. By Mark on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    This is what makes Larry such a great player. This is going to be a great season! GO CARDS!!!

  14. By AndyStandsUp on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    Don’t forget Darren, there’s a Training Camp for fans as well.
    It’s time to take the cover off the grill and start scouring the ads for sales of beef. Time to reach in the back of the closet and hang the Cards jerseys in the front, within reach. Meticulously planning for the weekend trip up to Flagstaff, including parking places closest to the Walkup Skydome in case of inclement weather and of course making sure the Qwest bill is up to date so we have access to TV and
    But the biggest meaning of training camp for fans is to renew the faith that this year is OUR year and we’re going all the way, baby!

    Go Cardinals!

  15. By johnnybluenose on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    hi darren. i see brees signed for big money. you were right. your house is safe. on the subject of pro athletes having to work at their craft year-round now as opposed to years ago when most had to have an off-season job to help pay the bills, i offer this little story in case it is of interest. i grew up in a small town north of montreal. one summer day in the early 1960’s when i was about 12 years old, a molson’s beer truck pulled up in front of the little general store where my friends and i would sometimes hang out. the driver and his helper got out and carried cases of beer into the store. the helper was gump worsley. gump was a native montrealer who was then the goalie of the new york rangers. as there were only six teams in the NHL at that time, an arguement could successfully be made that he was one of the best six goalies in the world. the fact that he is in the hockey hall of fame certainly suggests that he was pretty good. anyway, the thing is, gump was forced to do this kind of work during the summer because he was not paid enough to play pro hockey, at the highest level, to support himself and his family year-round. and gump was not alone. my, how things have changed. i hope brees can breathe a little easier now that he will earn $20M this year.

  16. By Matt H on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    Darren, I have to ask.. Do you have ANY idea who the cat with the hi-top fade on slide 16 of those workout photos is?–nfl_mezz_1280_1024.Laurent.jpg?width=960&height=720

  17. By Darren Urban on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    Matt H —

    RE: Haircut

    It’s Tiquan Underwood of the Buccaneers.

  18. By Eric Y on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    Andre Roberts looks big. He looks bigger than Michael Floyd in the Fitz Camp pics. Any Idea on his weight right now? I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s 15-20 lbs bigger than last year. This guy excites me as a possible breakout star.

  19. By Darren Urban on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    Eric Y —

    RE: Roberts size

    I was thinking the same thing. But no, I don’t know his weight. I do know he is in great shape.

  20. By Scott H on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    In addition to all of what Darren points out in this blog, training camp also means this – it means that another football season ( real AND fantasy ) is only a month away. Beautiful thing. SOOOO much to look forward to. Like…

    1) The battle between Kolb and Skelton
    2) Seeing this defense pick up where it left off
    3) Beanie Wells picking up where he left off
    4) Michael Floyd
    5) Ryan Williams
    6) Patrick Peterson as the new Devin Hester
    7) So many young rising stars on defense
    8) The true arrival of Calais Campbell as a blue-chip DE
    9) More depth at DB than we’ve had in a long time
    10) Rookies pushing for starting jobs on the O-line

    Seriously – with solid QB play ( the biggest question mark ) and this defense at least as good as it was over the 2nd half of last season, this team is right back in the picture in the NFC. Don’t think many people see that coming right now, but we’re just below the surface. It all comes down to the QB position, plain and simple. Barring severe injuries, we are good enough everywhere else.

  21. By cobra on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    @ johnny blue nose:

    Great comment! We need more Canadian fans, and Nova Scotia, or anywhere else. Yes, I do try to pay attention when time allows. Of course, it was Darren who informed me you were Canadian on a previous response to you.

  22. By Ccongrove on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy the “Now Showing” segments. The reason I enjoy them is because I can actually watch them without the video stopping, starting, studdering, stopping again and again. I don’t know what is being done differently, but it works.

  23. By maham on Jul 16, 2012 | Reply

    great pics daren. who’s eraser head? just kidding. andre looks like he has been working out. that’s good, he is going to have to take a beating in the middle if he wants to catch balls this year. if he can, i’m calling him andre 3000 ; because he will be the third receiver to grab 1,000 yards this year. we don’t need kurt, we’ve got larry, his side kick and andre 3000.

  24. By William Barry on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    Let us not forget, that our NFC west competitors have never seen Ryan Williams, and I hope he shows a great running style this year…He will really surprise!!!! and he will make Beanie even better

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