Come (Fantasy) Camping – Part V

This entry was posted by on Tuesday, 18 June, 2019 at

I arrived down at the field. I looked around and felt I must have gotten down there early because it was half empty. But not long after, the Steelers exercise coach from the morning session called us over to warm up. Where is everyone? It would seem a good portion of the “campers” did not return. Whether it was too much from the morning drills…or too much from Sharkey’s the night before. These were the same drills as the morning ones. I went through them a little more gingerly this time. I was using it as a gauge to see what I could and couldn’t do. Once I felt it was too much I stopped. I did make it through about ¾ of the warmup routines.

 

Our first session would be with the D-Line and Chris Hoke. He recognized me from the autograph session since I had the same type of gold jersey on I had him autograph. He joked how many of these did I have? We went through the ladder drills, forward and sideways. Then he had a competition, between lined up pairs. Through the ladder and sprint to the finish. Sprint? Hell, I’ll try. The ladder part was easy for me. After I got out of it, the sprint was the issue. I had a noticeable limp. However, each time I beat my man since I had a good lead out of the ropes. Next up they put out the tackle dummies. We would have to weave through three of them and swat them as we went by, then hit the QB. The QB was Hoke’s son holding a blocking pad. Each guy in front of me hit the tackle dummy like it was made of fine china. I was determined to kick the shit out of the dummies. Each one I hit went all the way to the ground, I got through them with decent speed and didn’t lose my balance. Hoke’s son must have seen my anger hitting the dummies because when I got to him, he was about 10 yds further back then with the other guys. I just tapped the pad as he backed up and returned to the line. We went through these dummies with different moves, swim move, bull rush etc. I was ready to go up against Dawson’s O-Line team. However, we were informed due to the amount of injuries earlier, that part was cancelled for the afternoon. Oh well. So instead I got a picture with Hoke. What was funny is I texted it to my wife. Hoke lost so much weight from his playing days Christina thought it was the kicker, Suisham.

Our next session would be with Dwayne Woodruff and the DB’s. He spoke with us and was all business. He really coached. Someone asked him if he had one guy who gave him trouble in his career. He simply said, no one. He did acquiesce and say, well, Art Monk. He said he was one of the most physical receivers he had to play against. I said, well before Hines Ward. The first drill he had us do was to track the deep ball. We lined up in two lines across and opposite each other. Once again 2 QB’s were needed. This time both knew how to throw. You would run deep. The QB would throw the ball out in front of you and you had to track it and catch it. The first one I ran down perfectly, but I had no burst. Luckily, he hung it up there, but that was really the idea. I headed over to the other line. Same results, but this time I pushed it a little and the hamstring was none the worse. Good sign. Woodruff then set us up for the next drill. We would back pedal 5 yds looking directly at the QB. Once the QB turned his shoulders we would break that way to intercept the ball. If we caught it, take it to the house! My first time through, once the QB turned, I had to break to the right. I caught it in my mid-section and began to take it to the end zone.  Woodruff noticed my catch and stopped me. He said I needed to cut in more, if a receiver were there, he would have been in front of me. I had one more go at the current drill. I back peddled and this time the QB went to the left. I cut in on an angle like Woodruff told me. However, the ball sailed high. I had to break back but I got to it and caught the end of the football. I spun and ran the INT back. It would seem the Steeler’s photographer got a picture of the best catch of the day (well, according to me).

We ran the same drill but with a guy from our group playing WR. We still were just watching the QB though. I sat this one out after my catch. Why mess with perfection(and a sore hamstring)! A few more runs through this drill and we headed over to cover the WR’s being coached by Lipps.  Although we were just watching the QB’s, Woodruff gave us another piece of advice. When the receiver cuts, watch the receiver’s head. If he doesn’t look back, or is not worried about looking back, he is taking the route deep, don’t jump on the route. Great piece of advice. The Tennessee guy was our best, so he went first. The WR turned his head, he jumped the route…he dropped an easy INT though. Next time, the receiver did the same thing. This time he held onto the INT. The rest of our group was not that good. The WR group had a guy who thought he was in a real camp. He blew passed the lesser guys. One of our team shouted at him, they are not giving out contracts today. This guy never lined up against the Tennessee guy. Sad he couldn’t handle better competition. After a few reps I decided to give it a shot. I saw another #62 (not that unusual as a few had that number because of Ilkin). I watched the WR’s head. As he cut to the right he turned to look back. I went to jump the route…and my legs had no burst. Earlier in the day I might have gotten to the ball. I arrived instead after he caught it. I lined up on him a second time. This time I knew he would not go deep. Didn’t matter. He cut to the left with the same results. I joked, I am ready to be a Steeler CB. Each time I was there to “tackle the catch”. It was fun, but a little disheartening. I would have liked to be more competitive in this drill. At least I made the other guy look good!

 

The final session was with the LB’s and Arthur Moats. All during the day you could hear that group throughout the field. LOUD! I would find out why. Moats gave us his rules. First off, we act as a team. We answer as a team. And we answer LOUD! For example, Are you ready? You’d shout back YES! How are you feeling? GREAT! Also, if you were not running the drill, you were clapping and encouraging your teammate through it. Also, if someone failed at the drill, we would have to do 5 of whatever callisthenic was chosen. Win as a team, lose as a team. Also, no walking to the next drill. Run. We did the ladder drill again, but this time at the end they threw the ball at you to catch. Forward, sideways. Then we had agility drills around the stakes. Go forward, go around, run backwards to the next, then forward and so on. Then they set up the pads for us to run around. Again, forward through one, backwards through the next. The final drill was to bend down and smack the pads as you go by, all 4 of them on the ground. Then get the ball thrown at you when you finished. My first time through I didn’t realize I had moved my sunglasses to the top of my head. They went flying when I bent down and hit the first pad. Of course, they bounced right in the way of the second pad. Not wanting to fail and cause anyone to do callisthenics, in one motion I bent down, grabbed the glasses, flipped them out of the way, smacked the second pad and finished the drill. Moats said, nice improvise! After the drill I gathered my sunglasses. I picked out the cutest intern to hold them for me. I hurt my hamstring, not my libido. During all of these drills, anytime someone accidentally kicked a pad or dropped a ball, we did 5 of his choice. Jumping jacks, push-ups, squat jumps (whatever the hell that was). We must have done several rounds of each. I am happy to report none where my fault. The whistle sounded to end it all. Moats had us sprint to the end of the field and back. I finished dead last lol. I went to get my sunglasses from the intern. She obviously saw me limping and asked if I was ok. I told her my story, she was impressed I made it through. She pointed out what I already knew. A lot of guys bailed on the afternoon session. I went over to Moats to thank him for pushing us all, especially me. He had pointed out a few times to the other guys, if the guy with the bad knee can do it, you better do it. I told him I don’t think I could have made it through the last session without that. A handshake and a couple of cool photos then took place. What a great guy.

All the groups gathered at midfield and we were told, specifically told..lol, to go shower and then meet back in the cafeteria for dinner. Luckily, I still had plenty of ice left back in the dorm.

 


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