The NFL’s most productive running back in Week 15 is also one of the smallest in stature. Ray Rice was a workhorse for the Baltimore Ravens, carrying the ball 31 times for 153 yards against a stingy New Orleans Saints defense, en route to a 30-24 victory and STACK’s weekly feature, the training behind the highlights [view last week's entry, "How Andre Johnson Develops Freakish Athleticism"].
The 5’8” feature back filled up the stat sheet Sunday, scoring one rushing touchdown and leading his team with five catches for 80 yards and a receiving TD. Rice sliced the Saints' D right up the middle through all four quarters, rushing for 121 of his season-high 153 yards between the tackles.
“Our style of play demands that they are in peak physical condition and need to be able to run fast all game,” says Jeff Friday, the Ravens strength coach for nine seasons before joining the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010. Fast all game—like when Rice gashed the Saints for a 50-yard run in the fourth quarter, setting up a field goal to regain the lead, and eventually seal the W.
Early in their off-season—which is now for you high school players—the Ravens increase their conditioning levels by performing 440-meter sprints. Think of it as conditioning for your conditioning.
For now, try the 440-Yard Sprint as a tool for building speed endurance and enhancing your overall conditioning level, as well as for reinforcing proper sprint mechanics.
You can run the 440 on a track, or try a Cut 440 on a football field. Perform three reps.
Cut 440 Drill
• Begin behind end line of end zone
• Sprint to opposite goal line; touch with foot
• Immediately sprint back to starting line; touch with foot
• Immediately sprint back to opposite goal line; touch with foot
• Immediately sprint back through starting line
• Rest five minutes; repeat for specified reps
From the moment Ray Rice steps on the field, the defense is defenseless. Read more about Rice’s maverick attitude here. [And see how his Ravens counterpart, Willis McGahee, trains during the off-season.]
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