The NFL has gone high-tech. New for the 2015 season, every player has a tracker embedded in his shoulder pads that collects data like velocity, distance traveled and proximity to opposing players. Zebra Technologies is the company behind the tech, and the insights they provide are letting fans see the game in a whole new light.
Week 8 produced more impressive data, and many of the players behind the numbers were STACK athletes. Let’s take a look at who popped off the spreadsheet and tell you about the workouts behind their performance.
All data courtesy of NFL.com
1. You Can’t Run From Julio
Julio Jones had another monstrous game in Week 8, going off to the tune of 12 receptions for 162 receiving yards. But his most impressive play wasn’t a circus catch or an ankle-breaking juke—it was a tackle that didn’t even count!
Early in the first quarter, QB Matt Ryan tried to float a jump ball to Jones in the end zone, but the pass was intercepted by Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander, who ran the ball out of the end zone. By the time he hit the 35-yard line, Alexander had nothing but green turf ahead of him. Then, out of nowhere, Jones swooped in like a hawk (Falcon?) to catch Alexander from behind and save a touchdown.
It’s not as if Jones chased down some slouch—Alexander ran a 4.55 40 at the NFL Combine. Jones covered a total distance of 128 yards on the play and hit a top speed of 21.72 mph. Although the play was ultimately nullified due to an offsides call, it was a perfect showcase of Jones’s freaky athleticism.
Jones builds his elite speed and power with sandbag workouts.
RELATED: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program
2. Michael Floyd Burned the Browns
Michael Floyd had an incredibly efficient Week 8, racking up 106 receiving yards and a touchdown on just four catches. He now has touchdowns in three straight games. Floyd did much of his damage on go routes, using his speed to burn the Browns defensive backfield. On his four receptions, Floyd covered a total distance of only 130 yards, often just running straight downfield to beat the defense. His 60-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter is a perfect example. Browns cornerback Joe Haden was lined up in press coverage over Floyd to start the play. Floyd beat him off the line of scrimmage with a nice move, and then used his speed to create separation. He also did a nice job of getting Haden’s hands off him so he could haul in the catch. Once he secured the ball, Floyd accelerated and broke Haden’s diving tackle attempt before waltzing into the end zone.
It was a simple route, but Floyd executed it to perfection. Why get fancy when you can outrun the defense? Prior to the 2012 NFL Draft, some scouts expressed skepticism regarding Floyd’s ability to separate from pro cornerbacks downfield. A 4.47 40-Yard Dash at the Combine helped him prove he had the speed needed to succeed in the NFL. Now he’s doing it on Sundays.
Floyd builds his speed and power with exercises like Barbell Roll-Outs and Band-Resisted A-Skips.
RELATED: Michael Floyd’s Path to the Pros
3. AB is the Energizer Bunny
It hasn’t been the smoothest season so far for Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. He started off red-hot, but after quarterback “Big Ben” Roethlisberger went down with an injury in Week 3, Brown’s numbers took a nosedive. Brown had trouble developing chemistry with the Steelers back-up QBs, and his number of targets went down. But to the delight of Brown, Big Ben made his return in Week 8 and the two quickly re-established their strong connection with a short touchdown pass.
Even though it’s been an up-and-down campaign for Brown thus far, he’s still on pace for 1,416 receiving yards. And you can’t say he hasn’t been working hard. Through Week 8, Brown has covered 1,613 yards from scrimmage. That’s the third-most in the NFL.
Brown builds his endurance with swimming and TRX workouts.
RELATED: Antonio Brown’s Bodyweight Workouts