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Wednesday, July 29: The Conditioning Test Is No Joke

Posted by Matt Terl on July 29, 2009 – 8:53 am

Tomorrow, after a seemingly endless stretch of downtime, training camp starts back up. Once upon a time in the misty NFL past, “training camp” meant exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of out-of-shape players would show up, many having worked non-football jobs during the offseason, and the coaching staff would use a grueling camp to whip them into shape.

That’s not so much the case now. Between organized offseason team workouts, non-team-related but still organized workouts, and individual workouts, players now show up to camp in shape and use the training camp to get into game shape. But teams still need to be sure that players are prepared to go through the rigors of training camp (no matter how in shape they appear), which is why there is a conditioning test that everyone has to pass before training camp.

The conditioning test made its way into the spotlight last year when Coach Zorn talked about how then-rookie wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly had not been able to pass it.

“If you can’t pass that physical test that we give, then something’s not right,” Zorn said at the time according to the Washington Post. “So I’ve been kind of jabbing at them with that. . . . I wish I could take the test just to show everybody that I was in good shape. It’s sort of a pride issue.”

Zorn isn’t the only one who wanted to take the test.

This is Randy Thomas‘s brother-in-law Brian.

The 21 year-old has been in town for much of the summer, working out with Thomas with the hope of walking on to the football team at his junior college. “That’s my dream,” he told me. That’s my goal. I’ve been given an advantage because I’ve been working out in the NFL atmosphere instead of the junior college atmosphere.”

Yesterday marked the culmination of that advantage: on the last day Brian could be at the facility, Thomas wanted him to go through that same conditioning test. “It’s a 300 yard shuttle,” Thomas told me, “25 yards and back six times. Linemen, we get 67 seconds. I gave him 70.”

So Thomas, along with fellow linemen D’Anthony Batiste and Mike Willliams, took Brian out to the practice fields yesterday morning and put him through his paces.

I caught up with them afterward to see how it went.

“He really embarrassed me,” Thomas said, “because I put him through the whole offseason workouts.”

I winced. That successful?

Thomas shook his head. “He wants to walk on somewhere, but he walked off today. Today, he really discouraged me, because I thought he was at least getting worked out.”

Brian had been standing by, still looking sweaty and fatigued. “I finished the first one,” he pointed out.

“It’s the recovery,” Batiste said. “You can do the first one, but your recovery is shot.”

“He passed the first one in the handicap time of 70,” Thomas clarified. “He came in at 69 seconds. But the second one took him a hundred seconds. That’s pretty embarrassing.”

“When I started off running the first one, it felt kinda good. You know, you gotta run down there and back: that’s one. I got to four of those, then … the gas tank ran out. Then I started running on fumes.” Brian looks completely taken aback at how difficult the test was, so I asked him if he had thought he was ready.

“All night, I was thinking, ‘I can really do this stuff. I can really make it in sixty-five.’ But I’m telling you, it’s … whew.”

Brian may not be in NFL shape, but he’s in better shape than, say, me. “If had tried to run that without working out, I probably would’ve died. I would’ve considered myself, like, 70% in shape. I wasn’t all the way in shape before the training. This morning, I thought I was most of the way in shape.”

And now?

“Now I feel like crap.”

It was Thomas, though, who made it clear just how tough the test can be. He told me that he’s exempt from the test as a ten-year vet, so I sort of confidently said something like, “But you could do it, yeah?”

He looked at me for a second and shook his head. “No.”


“Nope.” He pointed over at his brother-in-law. “One thing [Brian] did, he did finish. So we know he got heart. But I wanted to show him that it ain’t no joke.”

The kind folks over at Redskins Broadcast Network — Rebecca Mejia and Jordan Beane — caught this video of Mike Williams interviewing Thomas about his cousin’s conditioning test.


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