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Rookies Focused on Offseason Programs
Aaron Curry had just exited the shower. Nick Reed was relaxing in a chair after a workout while waiting for Max Unger, his former college teammate, to finish an interview. Mike Teel was on his way to study some practice video.
Wait a minute. Didn’t Seahawks coach Jim Mora cut his players loose June 12 after a final minicamp practice? Well, yes, but also no. Mora’s see-you-in-six-weeks sendoff didn’t exactly extend to all the players.
Monday, the team’s dozen rookies began the second week of their two-week conditioning program – under the all-seeing eyes of strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark and his assistant, Darren Krein.
“This is very beneficial, absolutely,” said Unger, an offensive lineman from Oregon and the team’s second-round draft choice. “It would be nice to be done. But at the same time, we really don’t know that we’re getting ourselves into as far as camp goes, so this just helps us out a little more in trying to get ready for it.”
The daily sessions are intended to make up for lost time, foster camaraderie in this year’s rookie class and help Clark fine tune the workout programs the rookies will take with them when they finally are set free.
Lost time? “We’re already at a disadvantage just being rookies,” said Curry, a linebacker from Wake Forest and the team’s first-round draft choice. “The vets had an extra minicamp that we didn’t participate in.”
That was the pre-draft minicamp in April. The rookies also had to vacate the premises for a few weeks after the post-draft minicamp.
“Without a doubt, this just gives us an extra two weeks to continue to get accustomed to the way they do things here,” said Teel, a quarterback from Rutgers and the team’s sixth-round draft choice. “It’s an extra two weeks to meet with our position coaches, to watch film, to work with the coaches in the strength room, to continue to develop ourselves leading up to training camp.”
Camaraderie? “This is definitely going to help with us bonding as rookies,” Curry said. “And it goes past football, as far as getting to know this new environment and hanging out with each other. Because right now, we’re all we’ve got.”
Fine tuning? “Coach Clark gets a little better feel for what each of us needs to do better, so he can personalize the program as far as the weight training,” Unger said. “That’s definitely a positive.”
Clark got a necessary jump on the individualization of the programs for the rookies because they trained separately from the veterans during their first three weeks with the team.
Clark rates each player’s abilities in specific drills and his physical components by levels – one being the highest, four the lowest – depending on the type of workout and capability of fulfilling it.
“That’s how we write our programs to fit each guy,” Clark said. “But it takes a while to do it with the rookies.”
That’s because they come from different backgrounds, so their training has not been standardized.
“So the beauty of this time with the rookie is, I already had them leveled – at least I think I did – so now I can just tweak them a little,” Clark said.
It happened the other day with wide receiver Deon Butler, when the team’s third-round draft choice displayed more strength in one drill than Clark had anticipated.
“So I was able to bump him a level in that one category,” Clark said.
These all-rookie sessions are punishing, but not punishment.
“They’re trying to make it fun,” Unger said. “They took us on a pretty intense hike.”
That was last Friday, when the regularly scheduled program was preempted so Mora could take the rookies up Tiger Mountain – the peak just off I-90 that Mora has made even more famous because of his highly publicized weekly runs up the landmark mound.
Clark commemorated the ascent by presenting some of the rookies with rocks to display in their lockers.
“To remind them that they made it to the top,” Clark said.
But the purpose went deeper than being able to say you reached the summit of “Mount Mora.”
“That’s really coach Mora’s deal,” Clark said. “I know why he’s doing it. It’s for mental toughness. It’s to get them out of their comfort zone and doing something they have to overcome that they’re going to be proud of when they’re done.”
This week, it’s back to normal – including a high-intensity makeup this Friday of power-and-strength endurance session the rookies missed last week. Also on tap are a development workout for speed and acceleration in the indoor practice facility (Monday), a full-power workout in the weight room (Tuesday) and a change-of-direction session (Thursday).
Despite Mora’s edict to his veterans, it’s not all rookies all the times these days.
“None of them are really free,” Clark said. “They’ve got the season hanging over their head, and they know it. Most of our (veterans) are professional enough that they’re working.”
Right on cue, first cornerback Marcus Trufant and then quarterback Matt Hasselbeck walked past the large window of Clark’s office in the team’s state-of-the-art weight room. In one corner quarterback Seneca Wallace was working out, while in another were tight ends John Carlson and Joe Newton. Upstairs, defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant were using the cardio machines.
The team’s draft choices – Curry, Unger, Butler, Teel, Reed, safety Courtney Greene and tight end Cameron Morrah – won’t even been done after this week. They will fly to Florida on Saturday for the NFL’s rookie symposium.
Then, July 1, they too will be “free” until reporting for training camp. And what’s on tap?
“I’m going to workout,” Curry said. Casting a quick, but encompassing, glance around the rookie locker room, he added, “We’re all going to workout.”
Using the programs that are being fine tuned by Clark during these two weeks of extra work.