Coming into the NFL for your rookie season without any offseason on-field work with your team and a shortened preseason to prepare for the season presents numerous challenges for the newest crop of NFL athletes.
New Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor says it will take a greater focus than usual for players such as himself to be ready both mentally and physically for their rookie campaigns in the NFL.
“You know you’ve got to be ready,” Taylor said in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio. “You’ve got to do all these things to ensure you’re prepared and you understand you don’t have that time with the strength and conditioning coaches and your teammates to kind of get ready together. Now more than ever it’s kind of that period where you know you’ve got to be ready but now it’s just a different level of focus. You got to do everything in your power to make sure you’re ready on your own.”
This year’s rookie class faces the biggest challenge to begin their careers as any since at least the 2011 lockout season that also wiped out offseason work. That year provided additional challenges in that NFL personnel were forbidden from talking to any players while the labor dispute ensued. However, players could get together on their own and run their own workouts. This year’s circumstances are like the inverse of 2011. Contact with coaches and support staff remain in place but there have been restrictions on players being able to work out together.
It puts the onus on players to be as prepared as they can be for the start of training camp without the usual structures in place to add newcomers to the league.
“You’re not with your coaches. You’re not with your teammates. You’re just single-handedly trying to, number one, stay safe. Make sure anything and everything you do you’re staying safe and follow protocol,” Taylor said. “But you’re still trying to make sure you’re ready in a different way without those opponents around you to help you with the process. I think the biggest thing is trying to collect as much information as possible from people in the past who have been in the situation that I’m in now currently as far as going into the NFL.and you’re prepared and trying to do those things on your own without that supporting cast.”