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Talking About Practice: 16 Players Share Their Favorite Training Camp Drills


The daily grind and monotony of training camp often threatens to rear its head during the second week of practices, as players begin to feel the exhaustion from consecutive days in the hot sun, preparing for the preseason.

How they stay motivated to compete at a high level each day is predicated largely on how they feel, and more specifically, which activities on the field inspire their commitment to the game.

"Every drill you do, you act like you're in 11-on-11," cornerback Kendall Fuller said. "I don't think it's so much of a drill but rather just your mindset and what you're trying to get out of the drill."

So, we asked 16 players about their favorite drills at training camp (everything from individual to team), the reasons they enjoy them and the value gained from doing them at every practice.

Left tackle Trent Williams

Favorite Drill: 1-on-1's

Reason: "The competition. Everybody gets to compete. One guy going all out on you. As a lineman, you hardly ever get that kind of attention. You're always playing five guys."

Value gained: "Just the competitive spirit. The will to want to win every time. Winning every time is kind of unlikely because you're going against highly skilled players who get paid to play this game, too. The fire, the fight, the want to be undefeated, I think that's what I find out about myself."

Tight end Niles Paul

Favorite Drill: 1-on-1's

Reason: "There ain't nothing like 1-on-1's. Mono y mono. It's the ultimate level of competition. It's man to man, there's no other responsibilities, just you versus the defensive player across from you."

Value gained: "Just technique. I know that if I wanted to, I could [run] go [routes] and seam balls, but that kind of defeats the purpose of 1-on-1's. I like to work my technique on short routes, perfecting my craft and what I'm doing in and out of breaks."

Kicker Dustin Hopkins

Favorite Drill: Operation (syncing up the snap, hold and kick)

Reason: "Timing is so vital."

Value gained: "When you throw the whole team in there with a live defense and block team, it's still just practice but it ups the stakes a little bit. It causes me to focus. I like that aspect of feeling like it's more realistic."  

Running back Rob Kelley

Favorite Drill: Agile/footwork drill

Reason: "That's what I'm good at."

Value gained: "Coach Jordan tried to get us to make sudden cuts. We try not to think about them, so he'll give us a hand [to the left or right] to make you jump cut the opposite way. It kind of keeps you in a game [mentality]."

Safety Will Blackmon

Favorite Drill: Two-line drill (when two DB's backpedal and then shoot forward to catch a pass)

Reason: "We have a lot of swagger so that's a good drill to work on your feet. It kind of gets the energy going for the defensive backs."

Value gained: "Feet work, breaking on the ball, taking the proper angles and catching the ball as well."

Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan

Favorite Drill: 11-on-11's

Reason: "Not to be cliché, but they're game-like, those are the most beneficial. Obviously you have to do other things to fine-tune your craft, to work on your technique, but live team drills are my favorite."

Value gained: "You get a real sense of what would transpire throughout a play because 1-on-1's isn't always that realistic because you're trying to get to one spot and the quarterback's not always going to be in one spot. Whenever you're playing in a live drill, that's always better."

Cornerback Kendall Fulller

Favorite Drill: T-Gray Special (defensive backs work on agility, running and catching in one sequence)

Reason: "Probably just having [Torrian]Gray at [Virginia] Tech, us knowing that it was one of his favorite drills, so just having him up here, kind of being able to follow the same things."

Value gained: "It loosens you up. Loosens your hips up, being able to get that ball in the air before you do team stuff."

Wide receiver Robert Davis

Favorite Drill: 1-on-1's

Reason: "It's just a drill you have to go out there and compete, man on man, see who can get the best of the other person."

Value gained: "Just working on my technique. Being able to see what works, what doesn't work, so I can implement it into the actual team sessions and games. It's a chance to experiment and work my craft."

Defensive lineman Joey Mbu

Favorite Drill: 11-on-11's

Reason: "It's more fun, more realistic, just game situations. You get more realistic looks out of that and more of a live game atmosphere."

Value gained: "You're playing against the one, twos and threes O-lines, they're not trying to lose every rep. A dummy don't know what to do. It's against real people who actually play in a real game so you get that experience in practice."  

Defensive lineman Ziggy Hood

Favorite Drill: 1-on-1's

Reason: "You 're trying to work on your craft and help the man across from you."

Value gained: "Your technique. Whether you win or lose, you're still working on your technique and stuff like that. The drill is kind of hard because it's 1-on-1's. There's not too many times you're going to have 1-on-1's, especially for the guys on the inside. So you want to work your craft when you get the opportunity and show coach you can be a pass rusher as well as a run stopper."  

Quarterback Colt McCoy

Favorite Drill: Two-minute drill

Reason: "Lots of practice is scripted and both sides of  the ball know what plays are coming, and so when you can kind of play real football, something that's unscripted, you don't know what they're going to play, what their pressure is going to be. You've gotta just react and play football, that's what I like."

Value gained: "You start getting a feel for what [Greg] Manusky likes to call in certain situations -- brining pressure, are they going to play coverage, what do they do when you get down into the red zone – [and] the more periods like that you get, the more you kind of get a feel for what you need to do to be successful."

Cornerback Dashaun Phillips

Favorite Drill: Individuals

Reason: "That's when you practice your craft. You get your eyes right for when you go to 1-on-1's. You start to get the repetition of seeing drops and all types of that stuff."

Value gained: "It gets your mind ready for the day. The things is, if you come out and go straight into the drills, your technique won't be as good, you'll just be out there playing,. But individuals just gets you ready for the day. You go over everything in individuals and then you go to work."

Linebacker Junior Galette

Favorite Drill: Get-offs (linebackers work on exploding off the line of scrimmage)

Reason: "I'm pretty much unbeatable in that. Nobody's ever beaten me on that."

Value gained: "Anticipation. You're timing up the ball and the snap count, and guys have actually been giving me a hard time on there, almost catching up, keeping up the pace, so I got to step it up and be on point or someone might catch you slipping. Snap counts and first steps, it's real crucial in staying low  so you don't hit your head in that chute."

Defensive lineman Stacy McGee

Favorite Drill: Pod (the offensive and defensive lines go head to head as full units)

Reason: "In order to win in that drill, it's a lot harder to win than in the game, because you've got linebackers in, which takes the linemen off of you. In that drill you just have linemen on linemen, so you might get a double team, you just got to fight it forever, it feels like.

Value gained: "Read, technique, everything all together. It teaches you how to be patient and play blocks longer."

Running back Chris Thompson

Drill: 1-on-1's

Reason: "It's just you and the guy, and for me, I'll be in those situations a lot during the games so I enjoy doing the 1-on-1's with the pass routes. I work on different routes, I go up against different types of linebackers, certain guys that are faster or a little bigger or more mobile. So I get a feel for a lot of different types of linebackers on our team so once we get to the game it's easier to handle."

Value gained: "That's my role on this team. As long as I'm in this league that'll be my role. It helps the offense out a lot having a guy that can come out of the backfield and run a lot of different routes. It adds an extra element to our offense. It makes it difficult for the defense too because you have a lot of very athletic linebackers but not as many that are willing to be 1-on-1 for a full game."

Tight end Jeremy Sprinkle

Drill: 7-on-7's and 1-on-1's

Reason:  "In 1-on-1's you can really work on technique. I just like catching passes in 7-on-7's." Value gained: "The 1-on-1's, looking at different kinds of leverage that you might not get to do in the team periods, just working on technique a little but."

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