NFL training camp is long and arduous. It begins with “mandatory” mini camp, then OTAs—a.k.a. organized team activities (as opposed to unorganized team activities, when wide receivers pretend they are offensive linemen and punters practice interpretive dance moves)—and finally, the actual training camp itself. With so much time spent practicing against teammates, monotony tends to set in. To combat this, some coaches like to spice things up a bit, running drills that, without any sort of context (or sometimes even with it), make absolutely no sense. Here are some of the strangest activities spotted at NFL training camps this summer.
Cleveland Browns Defensive Backs Wearing Boxing Gloves
Photo: AP Images
If you’ve spent any time in Berea, Ohio this summer, you might have come away confused as to which sport the Cleveland Browns are practicing for. Browns DBs have been told to wear boxing gloves, just in case they need to throw a left hook-uppercut combo to stop the receivers they are covering. Actually, the Browns defensive coaches have their cornerbacks and safeties all Mike Tyson-ed up so they can practice covering receivers without grabbing—because the NFL will enforce a strict “don’t EVER touch the receiver” rule this season. If the number of times Browns defenders were flagged for holding in their pre-season game against the Washington Redskins is any indication, perhaps it’s time for a new drill.
Eagles Coach Chip Kelly Turns Quarterbacks Into Robots
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Chip Kelly has been a person of intrigue since he brought his quirky approach to the NFL from the University of Oregon. Indeed, Kelly is unorthodox. He runs full-speed practices the day before a game. He gets a little too intimate with his headset. And he does some weird stuff during Philadelphia Eagles training camp, including turning all his quarterbacks into clones of each other. During practices, Kelly instructs all five of his team’s quarterbacks to line up, assigns each one a read, and has them all take a snap and drop back at the exact same time. Each QB throws a ball to his assigned receiver based on the order of the reads. Weird. It feels like the year 2040, when technology will make all football players clones of Peyton Manning.
Pretty Much Everything the Dallas Cowboys are Doing
Photo: AP Images
Picture this scene: A group of very in-shape men, all shirtless, get water thrown on them while they attempt to catch footballs. Nope, it’s not NFL Night at Chippendales. Welcome to Dallas Cowboys training camp! Interestingly, half-naked tight ends getting doused in water like they have an upcoming game at Sea World isn’t even the strangest thing going on. Cowboys coaches have had players catch giant exercise balls and do…whatever it is they are doing in the above photo. Because why catch a football when you can catch something four times larger?
The Jets Get Dizzy With It
In an attempt to get his players’ “energy level boosted up” (not trying to set a record for most players puking during an NFL training camp), New York Jets coach Rex Ryan had his athletes run to a baseball bat, place their foreheads against one end, spin around in a circle a few times, then sprint down the field. How this helps with anything football- or energy-related is beyond us, but Ryan has been known to do some pretty weird stuff.
Pittsburgh Rains Footballs on Punt Returners
Photo: AP Images
Usually, when attempting to return a punt, a player needs to catch only one football. But at Pittsburgh Steelers training camp, YOU MUST CATCH AS MANY AS YOU CAN OR ELSE. Coaches set up a drill in which a punt returner catches the first ball, then another and another and another without dropping any of the balls. Antonio Brown caught five, so he’ll be ready in case some jerk punter tries to cheat and kicks multiple balls at him. BRING IT ON, YOU CONNIVING PUNTERS!