Article posted by Cincinnat Enquirer
July 19, 2012
MASON — Ask any strength coach or head coach their most nervous time of the offseason and they would say the period between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp.
For most of that six-week period, 16 Bengals players have taken their conditioning another step by working out at Ignition APG. A total of 32 players representing 10 teams have been through the Mason complex at some point this month.
Besides Bengals players like Rey Maualuga, Domata Peko, Bernard Scott and Taylor Mays, other standouts have included Panthers’ rookie and St. Xavier grad Luke Kuechly, Connor Barwin (Texans), John Conner (Jets) and Jason Kelce (Eagles).
There have also been three former Bengals – Bobbie Williams (Ravens), Jonathan Fanene (Patriots) and free agent Chris Crocker.
“This is a good measuring stick to come here and see how good a shape you are,” Peko said. “Clif (Marshall) and his staff does a good job so that on Day One of training camp you are ready to go.”
Many of the Bengals have familiarity with Ignition. During last year’s lockout the defense had player-organized workouts there and took part in a conditioning program before the team’s offseason workouts began. Prior to becoming the Performance Director at Igntion, Marshall was part of the Bengals’ strength and conditioning staff and continues to be a consultant to the team.
The number of attendees has to be something that will make the coaching staff happy since they aren’t allowed to work with them until the first day of training camp a week from now.
“Coaches look at that to see who worked out and who didn’t based on the first and second day of practice,” Maualuga said.
With last year’s collective bargaining agreement, there have been plenty of changes to offseason programs. Conditioning staffs are allowed to only work with players during the 10-week program that runs from mid-April to mid-June. During this period, players may work out at team facilities but can’t be coached.
For places like Ignition, keeping veterans in shape for most the offseason is starting to rival the time and efforts they put into training potential pro prospects for the NFL Scouting Combine.
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“It is a natural fit for those guys to come here,” Marshall said. “We’re doing more training with veterans and the thing about it is all of these guys want to be here. They are paying their own way and have that commitment to improve.”
The asset for Marshall is that he worked for Bengals strength coach Chip Morton, so he can keep a sense of continuity and goals with what Morton wants. There are some variations but the philosophies are the same.
For players who are on other teams, Marshall gets a look at their program and then tailors his workouts for them.
So far during the workouts, Maualuga established his personal mark on the bench press by lifting 415 pounds while Mays topped out at 15.1 miles per hour on the self-propelled treadmill, breaking Barwin’s old mark of 14.5.
Maualuga and Mays have been working out together for most of the dead period, first in Seattle and now here.
“It has been the most crucial offseason for me,” said Mays, who is favored to start at strong safety when the season begins. “I know what to work toward and what will benefit me the most.”
Wide receiver and cornerback figure to be the two more intense battles of camp, but Brandon Tate and Armon Binns have been pushing each other while Terence Newman, Adam Jones and Brandon Ghee have gauged each other’s progress too.
For Newman, it has also been a chance to bond with teammates outside the building.
“It’s cool to be working out with guys from different teams because you are all trying to get better,” he said. “The offseason programs have changed a lot but the key is getting ready so you can go out fast and compete on the first day.”
Marshall will conduct two more workouts on Monday and Tuesday before the players report on Thursday with the first practice a week from today.