I had a story today about how the Jets work out during this time “off.” Speaking of off, I am technically on vacation for the next two weeks so I may not be as quick on the draw as I normally am. And p.s. the Jets signed free agent T Nevin McCaskill.
Suffern native Mike DeVito, a defensive end for the New York Jets, is spending the weeks off with his family on Cape Cod. Technically this is his off time, but with training camp opening on July 31 in Cortland, DeVito is working harder than ever.
“To me this is one of the most important times because you have to go into training camp in the best shape of your life,” said DeVito, whose grandfather was longtime Suffern football coach Ralph Consiglio. “You have to be self-disciplined. You have to be self-motivated to go in and do the work because it’s that important to get in shape.”
When they return on July 30, Jets players will be measured and weighed, and fined for each pound they are over their target. That’s no way to start competiting for position.
As much as they seem to be off, few are are treating this time as a vacation. Jets head strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi has written up positional workouts that have players in the gym six days a week, baseline.
“It is tough because it’s easier to get this work done when there is someone doing the same thing that you’re doing,” said DeVito, who gets help from his dad and brother in Cape Cod.
Players may be away from the Jets practice facility in Florham Park, but Alosi is keeping tabs and he and his crew have been known to make house calls if needed.
“You have to be doing something 12 months a year to be in this profession,” Alosi said. “There’s no coming back and playing your way into shape any more.”
Motivation is part of the reason tight end Dustin Keller, going into his second year with the Jets and already ranked high at his position in the league, had gone to a Saddlebrook, Fla. training facility to get full time help with his diet and workouts.
“Training by yourself has to be the hardest think,” Keller said, “because it’s hard to push yourself to the level you need to.”
It’s a vacation, but Keller wakes up at 6:30 a.m. to get a small meal in before his morning workout. He craves the steaks he can only have once a week during his cheat day, and has to settle for organic food and noxious-looking green smoothies on other days.
But it’s all for a bigger purpose.
“If you come in extra out of shape you have to work extra hard,” Keller said.
That’s particularly true for players like Bart Scott. It’s not easy to have a long career in the NFL, but the 28-year-old Scott said if you want to try, doing right by your body during these weeks is crucial.
“I never vacation on my six weeks,” Scott said. “Thats when I put my body through what I think it needs for a long season.”
Scott works with his trainer of seven years Chris Endlich and varies the routine with hill runs and boxing. The linebacker got his start as an undrafted free agent and has always felt he had to work out twice as hard before training camp starts.
“You can get away with stuff when you’re younger,” Scott said. “But if you set that routine when you’re young it’s easy. As opposed to living wild and partying, saying, ‘I’m young, I don’t need to go to the chiropractor, I don’t need to get a massage, I don’t need to get in the cold tub.’”
Alosi has written up guidelines for the defensive line that includes running and the kind of weightlifting specific to the position, such as squats. DeVito said its different from the “beach workout” that guys do to stay in shape, and takes nearly four hours each day to complete, not including travel time to the gym.
DeVito tries to wrap it up by the early afternoon and heads out on the family boat to relax. Scott has young kids he wants to spend time with, but the workouts are crucial.
“This is when you have the mental sparing when you have to tell yourself to get out of the bed when you don’t want to,” Scott said.