Strength and Conditioning Coach Bob Rogucki
"We are running two days a week as far as conditioning, and we're doing skill work two days a week. Our upper-body days are Monday and Wednesday, and our lower-body days are Tuesday and Thursday. We use Friday as a make-up day. They're only allowed to get four days in – you can carry over into the fifth day if they want to make it up. You can't extend one week into the next, though. So, everything that is done in this first week can only pertain to this first week, and then we move into the second week next week, which is basically just us with the players on the field, in the weight room. Nothing has really changed as far as how we're approaching what we do. We look at the neck as the most important area for us in training on our upper-body day. That's the first thing we do. We take care of the neck, the trap area. From that, one Monday we start with the bench press, and the following Monday we start with the incline. So, that is basically how we program that. [It's the] same thing with the legs; the first leg day is squats, and the second leg day would be trap bar deadlift. From that, we mix in different exercises. We have an additional guy, Billy [DeLorbe], who is working as a cross-training specialist for us. What he is doing is he is basically covering areas if a guy needs special work, rehab, or if he wants to do some additional abdominal work, flexibility, foam roll, whatever it may be. So, we are incorporating him in the middle of the workout and at the end of the workout. He is a good addition to the program. Our main objective is to get these guys in shape as quick as we can and be safe as we're doing that. Our work habit here, as you can see when a lot of guys come in from different programs, we do a little bit more than a lot of teams do. We expect a lot out of them. The bottom line is we've got to get them strong and in shape as quick as we can, because we're missing four weeks because of the late start time for us. So, we're attacking it as hard as we can and with the concept of being safe and making sure that we're getting prepared for the next phase. So that is basically what we do. Do you have any questions?"
How is Kelechi Osemele coming along? Coach [John] Harbaugh said he expected he would be able to do a lot. (Aaron Wilson)
"He is coming along very well. He's on track. He is doing a great job. Those guys that are in that status of rehab, they're progressing. It's an everyday, every week process for them, but he's doing fine."
Do you pair the guys together or is that something that they naturally do? (Kevin Richardson)
"We make an attempt to pair them, but we've found out through time that it's better to let them decide who they want to go with. And I had a guy tell me today, 'I prefer to do this in the room by myself when it's not as crowded.' That is perfectly fine. As far as the strength coach goes, that is the best environment you could be in because it's one-on-one. But they also have to build that camaraderie and be there as a group and as a team. What we try to do is we make this as competitive as we can. We basically break down by position. If I'm a linebacker coming into this program, we have an average starting weight for all linebackers if they're new to us. Within that framework, then we have the linebackers that have been here [and] we try to get that average weight and starting weight with those guys that have been here as close as we can. So, what you'll see is a linebacker not in our program, seeing a guy do 500 pounds on the leg press. Now that's competition, and we invite that. There are some guidelines to that. If we know this guy wants to attempt 500 pounds, and he can't do 450, then we don't allow that to happen. We monitor that by each position coming in, and we're competitive in the drills that we run. Tomorrow we have a run in which we have two drills, and this drill will compete against this drill, and we break it down by position. So, competition is key. It's key for us here. It builds that want and that desire to continue to get better, so once they leave us they are somewhat programmed into that. Again, it doesn't matter how many years of football they play. It's ingrained in them. But when they're away from it, you have to start bringing it back out. It's just like if you've never rode a bike in 10 years, when you get back on that bike you're going to be rusty, but eventually in time the skill is going to come back."
Coach, because it is voluntary, how many guys have you been able to look at, and are your expectations lowered in any degree because it is voluntary and it's early? (Jerry Coleman)
"Our numbers are high. Are our expectations low? No, because if they're here, we'll get them to where we need them to be. Anybody that comes into this program right now, our expectations are always going to be high for them. We're always going to press that button, because if we don't start pressing that button today, then three weeks from now they're not going to be ready. We do it in a group, and then we do it individually. Our expectations are high, and they are where we need them to be. Some guys, of course, just like in any organization, you're going to have guys who might need a little bit of help to shove them along a little bit. But that's with anything. Our expectations are always high, and right now we're pleased with what they're doing."
Brandon Williams posted a video of him benching 525 pounds – not here, but somewhere else. What are your thoughts on that and have you seen a guy lift that much? (Ryan Mink)
"I told him that is high enough. *(laughter) *525 [pounds] is fine. Did I see it? Yes. It was a pretty good lift, but that's high enough for right now, Brandon."
Have you ever seen somebody lift that much? (Ryan Mink)
"I don't want to throw a name out, but I had a guy at one other club that I was with at 6 a.m. in the morning put 500 pounds on – and that was after flying east coast back to west coast – and wanting to start out at that weight. So, is that something that I've never seen before? I've seen it before. Is that a good lift? Yes, it is. Can this guy who did 500 [pounds] at 6:30 in the morning walk on his hands? I don't think so, but Brandon can, because I saw that."(laughter)
Because of the later start time with the offseason program in the last couple years with the CBA, how much of a challenge is that for you, and how much do you have to trust that these guys will at least be close to ready to go? (Luke Jones)
"It's just like anything else: If I don't attend class for five weeks and I've got three weeks left and then I've got to come in and take that exam, that means I've got to work a lot harder to get there. We're pressing the button with these guys now. Normally, we may start a little bit lighter in regards to overload. It's something that we have no control over. We've lost that, so now our concept is we've got to get them there as quickly as we can. Would I rather have them there earlier? Well, sure. Do I believe our guys are preparing somewhere else and then coming in? For the most part, yes, because our first run is six 300's. It's a challenging run, it's a safe run, and it tells us that if they're running five and six, and if they end up having to walk, then they haven't done anything. It's just a guide for us to monitor how we approach them. If a guy can't run six 300's, then that means we've got to back something off, because if we don't, then we're going to tweak something and it's going to set us back. Yes, we'd like to have them here, but we can't, so we just try to go a little bit harder as we approach it."* *
Is it encouraging when you see guys like Joe Flacco, Ray Rice or Lardarius Webb here? Even though it's voluntary, some of the veteran guys want to be a part of this. (Garrett Downing)
"Sure. When you have your leaders here, that's a good thing. I look at strength and conditioning and what we do – and we're a small piece of the pie – I look at it as every player that is in our program is important. From Joe Flacco to the guy who is running down on special teams, to the guy who is just on the practice squad. We don't hold any difference in what your role is with the team. So when they come in to us, I'm not concerned if it's Flacco or if it's a practice-team guy. What I'm concerned about is I'm going to train this player as if he's a starter, and that's how you have to approach it. You can't [look at] practice squad guys [and say], 'Well, we'll get them when we can get them.' No, if a practice squad guy is in there at the same time Flacco is in there, a practice squad guy we will pay attention to just like we do Flacco. Everyone is important, because you never know when that practice squad guy becomes Joe Flacco. Sometimes you find yourself in situations in which you're not paying attention to a practice squad guy, and all of a sudden he becomes a star. So, you've got to be real careful with that. Everyone has the same importance in our program with our coaches. So, is it encouraging? Yes, it's great. I'm glad they're here."
Ray Rice's trainer says he's lost a considerable amount of weight this offseason and that he is maybe in the best shape he's been in at this point in the offseason. How does he look to you? (Matt Zenitz)
"He looks great; he looks fine. I've never spoken to his trainer, but he looks good. I've spoken to Ray. He's doing some things differently as far as his diet and so forth, and he told me he has a handle on it. So, he looks good. Whatever he did from the end of the season until now, he's in a good position right now."
In general, is there any different point of emphasis for the program this year? (Aaron Wilson)
"We always strive to get stronger. That's the bottom line. They say, 'What is unique about your program?' Every time they come in they're going to do more weight or more reps, and without bells and whistles. Again, there are a lot of programs out there that have bells and whistles, and the bottom line is, fellas and ladies, it's like this: In order to survive in this league, you've got to lift, and you've got to lift heavy. That's the bottom line. You've got to run, and you've got to run fast. You've got to condition, and you've got to condition long. There is no other answer but that to survive. It is a collision out there. It's a car crash every time they hit. You don't understand that unless you're on the sideline. You don't see that until you're flying at 30,000 feet, and you've got a broken finger, hyperextended arm and a dislocated kneecap. That's when you really realize the impact that is occurring. So, our goal is to get them as strong as we can, as fast as they can, and as big as we can as quick as we can for that particular time. And there is a progression. What we're doing now will change when the coaches start with them in two weeks. From that, minicamp starts, OTAs and preseason – all of those have different levels of effort and intensity. As the intensity goes up on the field, we have to be smart and adapt it to what we're doing in the weight room. The bottom line is they're here to play football. Not every football player is a weight lifter, and not every weight lifter is a football player. I was at some schools in which the guys who were the strongest on the bench were shaking their helmet on the sideline and never got in the game. He's a great weight lifter, but he wasn't a real good football player. What we try to do is mesh them both together. And guys are going to do things that they enjoy. You may like one exercise. You may like another. So, you're going to be good at those. I don't have to worry about those. What I've got to worry about is you not wanting to train the back of your shoulders, or you not wanting to train your hamstring. I then have to come in and make sure that is being done because you want balance – front and back. If you don't have balance, you're going to have injuries."
Would you say as a team they are healthier at this point now than they were last year, and if that's true, does that help you? (Brent Harris)
"I don't know if that's true, because that's the medical aspect of it. The healthier they are coming in, the easier it is for us. If a guy comes in at 100 percent, then you're going to have a better chance of getting there quicker. If a guy is coming in at 75 percent, it's going to take a little bit longer. But as far as are we more healthier now than [last year]? I don't have that answer. The only thing I know is I have the best effort that has occurred any time from the first year they were here until today, and we take a percentage of that, and we hope that we can start at that weight and maintain that weight as a start, and then grow from there."
Does the focus change for some of the veteran guys as far as stuff you work on – guys like Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs? Do you change the program for them every year as they get up there in their career? (Jeff Zrebiec)
"It's not that the program has changed. We still grind. It doesn't matter if they've played 10 years or five years. We still make an attempt to grind, because the bottom line is it doesn't matter if they're in their 15th year when they're out there competing. You can't say, 'Oh, hold up now, I've been here 15 years. You've got to slow down a little bit.' It doesn't work that way, so we do make an attempt. The older you get, the more problems you're going to have maintaining strength, so that's why they've got to work harder to do that. The older you get, the more weight you're going to have added to the body, so they've got to work hard to keep it off. Is there a difference because they're [in] Year 15 or Year Seven? Not really. They may prefer one exercise over another, but we can substitute that."
Arthur Brown has said throughout the course of the offseason that he wants to add more weight and get bigger. How have you seen him develop physically? (Matt Zenitz)
"He's done a good job from leaving us to coming back. He's around 233 [pounds], I believe, right now. So, he's a little heavier than he was last year. He's done well from the time he was gone until now, so the sky is the limit for him. He's done his part; we've just got to continue on from there."