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Insider Blog: Good Reviews on Day One

Posted Mar 30, 2010

New strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark was pleased with what he saw on Day One of the 2010 off-season program

Chiefs WR Chris Chambers, a man who’s entering his 10th NFL season, made his way into the practice facility at the Truman Sports Complex for yesterday’s opening of the 2010 off-season program. Precisely what awaited him inside, he was unsure. Once things got rolling, things didn’t exactly match up with the old precedents he was used to.

“Our strength coach here, Mike Clark (pictured), I can tell already that this is going to be a good program for the off-season,” Chambers said yesterday. “Some of the things he’s doing, with all the experience that I have, I’ve never done before on the first day.”

Also taking part in yesterday’s opening workouts was another 10th-year player. However, unlike Chambers, this veteran knew exactly what to expect when he entered the practice facility. Chiefs NT Ron Edwards had gone through these workouts before, from his collegiate days at Texas A&M where Clark had once spent 14 seasons in that university’s strength program. Who knows what Edwards was thinking, but nobody can blame Edwards if he wasn’t exactly giddy about facing the inevitable.

“It was nothing really special, I didn’t think,” Clark said with a bit of a smirk. “Of course, some of them thought it was.”

Chambers called Clark’s Day One exercises a “circuit workout,” but the description doesn’t fit the prescription. These aren’t anything that you’ve done at your local gym or seen featured on an exercise infomercial.

In-house, Clark officially calls the exercises “complexes.” The workouts are both intense and strenuous, inspired by world renowned strength coach Istvan Javorek. The “complexes” work different parts of the body and focus on developing everything from cardio to strength and explosion.

“He’s working different parts of our body,” Chambers said. “We’re not jumping into it by pulling sleds or running sprints right out of the gate. I really like the program. We have 40-some workouts and the first one went well today. The guys are working hard. You can work out a little bit in the off-season but it doesn’t mean anything. Once you get here, that’s when all the hard work pays off for you.”

Chambers, like many of his teammates, have already bought into Clark’s program after just one day.

Flash forward (actually…flash backward) to a year ago and the Chiefs were in a much different place. Many of the players had become a bit lackadaisical during their time away from Kansas City and the results showed when many members of the roster reported out of shape for the first day of 2009’s off-season workouts.

The fact that the players were out of shape at that point in time wasn’t as much about personal work ethic as it was about a lack of overall leadership. With instability at the top of the organization, during a period of time in which the Chiefs had no general manager, the absence of clear direction at the beginning of the off-season became an understandable occurrence. There is only a small window of R&R for professional football players, and by the time Todd Haley was hired in February, implemented his staff and met his players, the Chiefs were playing from behind.

This year, that isn’t the case. Some of those same players who reported overweight last season showed up in shape yesterday. The focus isn’t about cutting weight and trimming down anymore. The main focus has shifted into increasing power and explosion, all while developing these men into better football players.

“You can over-simplify it or you can under-simplify it, but the main thing is that we want these guys to become better football players,” Clark said. “The idea is not to make them better weight lifters, although that will happen, but the goal is to make them better football players.

“Really, think about this,” Clark continued to explain. “When they stick a foot in the ground, how much power are they going to generate when they change direction, accelerate, tackle or jump? One of the things we’re really looking for is how much power they can generate in a short amount of time.”

At the end of the day, the Chiefs have to get better on both sides of the football. Part of that journey is becoming more explosive in the weight room, which will hopefully lead to better first strikes at the line of scrimmage and increased play-making ability in the open field.

At this level of football, each one of these players was “born with it.” The natural ability is there across of the board. One way to differentiate from the competition is to continue development after entering the league, and a lot of that work points back to excelling in the strength and conditioning program.

“Coach Haley is a strength coach’s dream,” Clark said. “He puts so much emphasis on it that it just makes your job easier. The players come in and they know right away that they have to work extremely hard.

“I don’t have to sell the program as much here,” Clark continued. “These guys came back in, and for the most part were in pretty good shape for the first day. I was impressed.”

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