The Raiders held their 13th practice of Training Camp 2013 Monday, presented by California National Guard. After one preseason game and another game fast approaching, the team is doing its best to make all the corrections, prepare for the next match-up and stay focused.
“It’s the grind of camp, so these guys are trying to push through and trying to battle through and we have to continue to work on our consistency,” said Coach Allen.
In week 3 of training camp, the players’ bodies are sore and their minds are tired. Each athlete has to take care of himself before, during and after practice, and come up with tricks to stay focused in meetings.
“I think the most important thing is stretching,” said DE Andre Carter, who, in his 13th season, clearly understands how to keep his body healthy. “I think flexibility is always key. It eliminates injuries. Throughout my whole career I’ve always picked up certain things as far as just core work, flexibility. Those are things that will keep your career going so I’ve been very blessed just to continue to have a good regimen and keep on pushing.”
SS Tyvon Branch understands that by the second week of preseason, your body will no longer be fresh. That doesn’t mean, however, he won’t be at the top of his game. “You just have to come out here with the right mindset every day,” explained Branch. “Everybody comes out here and they’re sore. But after the first couple of periods, you get your blood flowing and get the lactic acid out and just fly around.”
Fourth-year T Jared Veldheer relies on the cold tub and a special leg-compression device to stay fresh. “I like the cold tub a lot and I also like using NormaTec, which is a compression therapy which flushes that lactic acid and any swelling out of the legs,” said Veldheer. “I take care of myself before and after practice making sure I’m loose and ready to go. And then after getting treatment on anything that feels a little bit beat up or banged up and staying fresh and top of it and doing some preventative stuff after to make myself feel refreshed and ready to go for the next day.”
One thing CB Chimdi Chekwa stresses is sticking to a routine from day one to the conclusion of camp. “You really have to stick to the same routine that you started out with,” explained Chekwa. “A lot of guys, after they get kind of tired of camp a little bit, they start doing things differently. So you have to stick to the same routine, making sure you stay in the training room, stretch a lot, warm up, do the same routine you’ve always been doing to make sure you stay fresh.”
The individual off-season training, as well as the off-season program with strength and conditioning coaches Al Miller and John Grieco, is helping the players keep up on the field.
Despite the preparedness, the veterans are still relaying their training camp training room knowledge to the young guys. “I try to. Some of the guys will ask me what I’m doing and I’ll let them know,” said Carter. “I’ll influence young guys to get in the cold tub because those are certain things your body needs. You may not like it for that 15 minutes, but you’ll feel a lot better.”
As much pre- and post-practice work the players do, it still comes down to the state of mind. “I’m telling you, it’s all about mentality in training camp,” said Branch. “You just have to be mentally focused and push through.”
That mental focus is especially critical in the meeting rooms. After long days, staying awake and focused in meetings is a struggle. Each player has his own way of remaining alert.
“Sunflower seeds, lots and lots of sunflower seeds to keep you up,” said Carter. “I think every now and then a sense of humor always good. If a guy kind of messes up on a play we’ll critique him but we’ll always give him a hard time. You have to have a little bit of laughter in the meeting room just to push through the day. There’s a fine line between being serious and having jokes, but as long as you have that balance it’s good because you continue to push through meetings and the hard days of camp.”
Branch keeps it simple. “Sunflower seeds are the key to success in meetings. They keep you awake,” he said.
Chekwa also works with sunflower seeds, but adds some coffee to the mix. He also thinks bigger picture. “I remember what I’m doing it for, remember what I’m getting prepared for,” said Chekwa. “It helps me keep my focus.”
Veldheer stays focused by giving himself something new to accomplish each day. “There are always things you can learn from and try to set a new goal to work on something every day,” said Veldheer. “With that kind of mindset, just try to build on something and get better at some of the little things, some of the big things as well. If you just come out here with a plan every day, which I try to do, you get something out of it.”
The veterans use the tricks of the trade to get through each grueling day of camp. And the rookies are slowly learning.
Today is August 12. The Raiders break camp August 21. The team has a little less than two weeks to keep their focus during the training camp grind.
Thankfully, the players have some preseason action to look forward to as well.
Keep up to date on all the action on Raiders.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Tags: Andre Carter, Chimdi Chekwa, Focus, Football, Jared Veldheer, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Preseason, Training Camp, Tyvon Branch
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