Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Raiders Passing Camp at CES: Behind the Scenes Account

Buford High School is used to the spotlight. The Wolves have won four straight Georgia state titles and seven of the last nine, but this week a different caliber of star stepped onto the field. The Oakland Raiders arrived in town.

Because contact with coaches is not allowed, NFL team workouts are up to the players. Around the league some players are practicing routes while others are running seven on seven drills. Raiders veteran Richard Seymour had another idea in mind.

It just so happens that Seymour lives around the corner from one of the nation's top sports performance training facilities, Competitive Edge Sports. A few weeks ago Seymour reached out to founder Chip Smith and set up a four day structured mini camp. He then reached out to his teammates and invited them to attend.

I asked Seymour if it was true he paid for the whole camp. "Nah, it's just a rumor," he replied, but we both knew he was just being modest.

The Raiders arrived bright and early for day one field training. Seymour showed up first, followed by the offensive linemen. One by one the players such as Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy, Darren McFadden, Rolando McClain and Kamerion Wimbley filed in ready to begin the day. Not everyone showed up on time but when all was said and done over 30 players participated in the workouts.

Upon arrival the players noticed lots of equipment: resistance cords, Stinchcomb harnesses, snatchback cords, shackles, etc... As an observer even I was wary of all the contraptions.

The atmosphere was filled with excitement as teammates greeted each other. After Chip introduced himself, Seymour said a few words and then it was time to get to work.

CES trainer Tripp Smith led the team through ballistic warm-ups and quick foot ladders. The guys were winded but there was no time to waste as they quickly broke into groups for position specific training.

Next up a team favorite, seven on seven. Quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller took turns directing the offense. It was obvious Campbell, constantly with playbook in hand, is truly embracing his leadership role.

Ready for a reprieve from the hotlanta heat the team headed back to CES for lunch and lifting. The weight room was a madhouse with guys everywhere, music blasting, the sound of weights and bars clanging along with the screams of encouragement to just do one more rep.

Day two started with more field drills, consisting of release harnesses, reaction coach, the dreaded Mama Bird drill and "Chip-O-Meters." Inventor Chip Smith designed this piece of equipment to give the athlete overspeed in flexion of the foot and resistance in extension of the foot. Basically cords are attached to both a harness on your body and straps on your feet.

About this time a bus pulled up with players who train at a facility based in Orlando. These guys were in town with a colleague of Smith's, Tom Shaw. This group consisted of former Viking and free agent Javon Walker, Steelers unrestricted free agent Ike Taylor, Patriots BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cardinals D'Anthony Batiste, Titans Myron Rolle, Jaguars Greg Jones and Chargers free agent Travis Johnson.

The Raiders and Shaw's guys played a little seven on seven. Oakland ran plays from their playbook while Shaw's team was not as scripted. It seemed everyone enjoyed catching up and appreciated a little healthy competition.

As the players left the field, the Atlanta Falcons, who also use Buford's field, arrived. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones greeted Raider players. With all this NFL star power on the field you would think we were at the Pro Bowl!

Back at CES headquarters players were treated to lunch, consulted with nutrition expert Marie Spano and some took advantage of the top notch CES rehab and prehab medical team.

Next on the agenda was the infamous CES pool workout. Now if you are thinking that pool day is an easy day than you are mistaken. These guys were attached to resistance cords as they tried to swim and used resistance bands in the water for upper body work. Let me tell you this workout is no joke. Pool day may be a rest for your joints, but that is the only thing that gets a rest on this day!!

Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey left a satisfied customer stating "the pool workout was a different kind of workout, but it was good."

Punt returner/wide receiver Nick Miller told me he didn't know what to expect. "I've done pool workouts before, but normally it's swimming laps. We got here and I saw the bands and that kinda threw me for a loop, I didn't know what to expect. It was a lot of hard work and just when we thought we were done we had to go do more, do the bands and the shoulders. It kicked my butt and it was good work."

Campbell tweeted "the pool workout with resistance bands was one of the best workouts I've done because it's working every muscle in the body at once."

CES director of sports performance lifting Robby Stewart complimented the guys, "as a group they worked hard and did a great job for their first time through the CES pool workout."

Seymour's goals for the week included: building team camraderie, reminding everyone to take care of themselves physically so they are ready to go when the lockout ends and hopefully picking up a few tips from the CES staff along the way.

As an observer I would say the Raiders time at CES not only fulfilled but exceeded expectations.

Follow me on Twitter: @Courtney_Sweet

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