NFL players get creative with at-home workouts during coronavirus pandemic

ByJamison Hensley ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Most gyms, and NFL facilities, are closed during the coronavirus pandemic, which means football players are getting creative with their at-home workouts.

New England Patriots Pro Bowl special teamerMatthew Slater bought exercise equipment online, but the Patriots' captain then realized he already had workout accessories staring right at him.

Slater turned his three children into what he called "human weights."

"Sometimes willingly and sometimes unwillingly, I hoist them up and put them to work," Slater said on the online show Huddle Up! "You got to get creative as possible."

This is the time when teams usually begin their offseason conditioning programs. With stay-at-home orders in some states and sports teams following gathering guidelines set out by health officials, no one knows when players will be allowed to return to team facilities, causing many players like Slater to turn their training sessions into a family affair.

New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins did a step workout, with a personal twist. He put his two daughters on his shoulders while moving up and down his brick walkway.

San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk incorporated his wife while performing a workout that would make Sylvester Stallone proud. Tying a rope around his waist, Juszczyk pulled Kristin, who stood on a boogie board, through inches of snow.

Juszczyk posted on Instagram: "Watched a lot of Rocky IV growing up."

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel is making sure he doesn't have any drops even though he doesn't have a quarterback in his neighborhood. Putting on his helmet and lining up in his cul-de-sac, Samuels is catching footballs from his Jugs machine, which is being run by his mother.

Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld is staying with his parents and brothers, which allows him to air it out to a couple of experienced pass-catchers. Both of his older brothers played football: Zach spent a couple of seasons with the Patriots and New York Jets and Matthew lined up at wide receiver for Brown University.

"I've got two nice targets that are under my quarantine, which is perfect," Sudfeld said.

New York Giants linebacker Blake Martinez built an extensive home gym last year with his father. It features a 30-yard turf field, a full-length basketball court, a sauna, two squat and bench racks, a treadmill, a punching bag, and of course, an enclosed area for his daughter that includes a play kitchen and a tricycle.

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe considers himself lucky because he's married to a training coach. His wife Abbie is a fitness model who has won numerous competitions.

A normal routine involves doing Pilates, hitting the weight bench, going into a 10 mph sprint, hitting the bike and then finishing with core exercises.

"My wife trains like an animal," Wolfe said. "I can't keep up with her sometimes."

Another Ravens player has been working out in a simpler fashion. Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews said his challenge has been finding the space to condition.

"You have to go back to the basics," Andrews said. "I've got basically a prison workout in my backyard with a bench and weights."

To connect with their players, some teams are going to schedule meetings and workouts on Zoom. There has been no official word if training camps are going to start on schedule in late July, get reduced or canceled.

In the meantime, players are going to do their best to prepare their bodies for the season with their spouses, siblings, parents and children.

"It's been a time to get creative," Slater said. "It's been a time to bring things back into perspective that maybe have shifted out of focus. So all in all, as challenging as it has been from an athletic standpoint, I think there's still a lot to be thankful for when you consider the time at home."

ESPN's Mike Reiss, Nick Wagoner and Jordan Raanan contributed to this report.

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