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News » ANATOMY OF AN NFL PLAYER


ANATOMY OF AN NFL PLAYER


ANATOMY OF AN NFL PLAYER
By MARY SHEDDEN


mshedden@tampatrib.com

It takes a lot more than tough workouts to make it in today's National Football League.

Body type plays a part for sure, but so do intelligence and a commitment to specialized training and nutrition, says Mark Gochenour, an exercise physiologist and owner of Tampa's Speed Source Athletics.

Workouts for the most elite player often go on year-round, says Gochenour, who trains athletes of all types, including about 20 who have earned a paycheck from the NFL. Like any other human being, a Football player will suffer if there's a lack of attention to fitness and nutrition.

Recently, we asked Gochenour to select active players who epitomize the physical and mental toughness needed at different positions. Although many start with the basic body type needed for the position, each of these players is pushing his mind and body further for maximum success. (None of the players selected is a client at Speed Source Athletics.)

QUARTERBACK

Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 240

Age: 32

Experience: 10th season

What makes him special: McNabb has all the critical components top quarterbacks need. He's quick-thinking, a pure passer and muscularly strong, from his throwing arm to his core to his legs. But he also has the leg power and agility to run when necessary.

What quarterbacks have to do to stay in top shape: The whole body needs a workout, including the brain. Gochenour would likely conduct an hourlong series of speed, strength and accuracy drills before testing the player's memory with verbal questions. Quarterbacks also need to be cognizant of how important neck strength is for carrying a helmet and absorbing massive jolts from an opposing player.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

Walter Jones, Seattle Seahawks

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 325

Age: 35

Experience: 12th season

What makes him special: Jones' size is almost as impressive as his speed, says Gochenour and several of his NFL clients. He's lightning fast and his footwork is "fluid and smooth" like a ballet dancer. His long arms mean he could hold other players off longer in a position that depends on five- to seven-second spurts of sheer strength.

What linemen have to do to stay in top shape: Linemen are the heaviest men on the field and depend on their high body-fat composition to protect the quarterback. But this also makes them a high risk for heart disease and for weight gain during the off-season. Gochenour urges linemen to adjust caloric intake during the off-season and focus on nutrition year-round. Endurance also is a weakness, so they need to incorporate aerobic exercise into their strength-training regimen.

KICKER

Matt Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 200

Age: 33

Experience: Seventh season

What makes him special: NFL kickers come in all shapes and sizes, but when it comes to legs, they all carry the same characteristics: enormous flexibility and power. The difference maker: mental ability. Bryant's ability to stay focused and have enormous success in 2008 came despite the tragedy of having his infant son die during the season, Gochenour says.

What kickers have to do to stay in top shape: The hip flexor is at the heart of this position and it's a must to keep stretching, Gochenour says. Strength training should center on the quadriceps and hamstrings with activities such as walking over track hurdles while wearing ankle weights. Visual drills also help kickers prepare for rushing defenders and fine-tune the timing of a successful kick.

LINEBACKER

Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 250

Age: 33

Experience: 13th season

Linebacker - Joey Porter, Miami Dolphins

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 255

Age: 31

Experience: 10th season

What makes them special: The ability to intelligently assess the offense, consistently tackle hard and invoke fear in the hearts of the opponent makes these two shine in a position Gochenour says is the defensive equivalent of a field general. These players not only anticipate the opposition, but they also excel at lateral (side-to-side) movements.

What linebackers have to do to stay in top shape: Top linebackers spend "an obscene amount" of time reviewing game film to understand the opposition's tendencies. They blend their fierceness with powerful, quick quadriceps boosted by drills such as leaping up and off large wooden boxes. Leg abductors and adductors and hamstrings must be incredibly strong to handle the sudden shifts and leaps made on the field, Gochenour says.

RECEIVER

Randy Moss, New England Patriots

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 210

Age: 31

Experience: 11th season

What makes him special: Speed is the most important element, but so is the ability to stop, start and turn quickly - all while wearing a heavy helmet. Moss is usually the fastest man on the field, but he also uses his large hands and his height to his advantage, says Gochenour, who ran track with Moss at Marshall University.

What receivers have to do to stay in top shape: Top receivers must accelerate and decelerate quickly, which places a high value on workouts focusing on fine muscle control and the ability to land properly, Gochenour says. Also, lean receivers also must have core strength so they can absorb hits in an extremely violent game. He works with his clients on relaxing muscles on impact, particularly in the knees, ankles and hips.

Photo credit: Tribune photo by JIM REED

Photo: Markk Gochenour

Photo credit: Getty Images

Photo: Donovan McNabb

Photo credit: Getty Images

Photo: Walter Jones

Photo credit: Tribune photo by CLIFF McBRIDE

Photo: Matt Bryant

Photo credit: Getty Images

Ray Lewis

Photo credit: Getty Images

Photo credit: Randy Moss

Copyright ? 2009, The Tampa Tribune and may not be republished without permission. E-mail library@tampatrib.com



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 2, 2009

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