It’s a long and tough road to get to the NFL for most players, but it might be an even more difficult task to get yourself mentally and physically “Ready To Play” in the NFL week in and week out. As we work our way towards the start of the NFL season, we’re speaking with a different NFL player each week and getting a first-hand account from them on how they get themselves ready for all of the rigors that come with competing at the NFL level. Here’s Miami Dolphins’ running back Isaiah Pead, discussing how he gets “Ready To Play.”
You really only have a few hours to yourself throughout training camp because our schedule throughout the day is just so much. When I’m done with football, which is probably around 7:30/8 p.m. I just go home, relax and don’t go over any plays or anything. Maybe cook something or have something ready to eat.
Then we have curfew in the hotel at 11 p.m., so you just want to let the day fall off. So when I get to the hotel that’s when I start to study my plays, trying to hydrate, do a little calisthenics, push ups, stretch with my stretching band and then I’m in the bed. My goal is always to be in bed by 12 a.m. but sometimes it leaks over until 12:30 a.m. and then we start the day all over again.
And I always have to make sure to baby my knee during that time, too.
My ACL injury in 2014 was really kind of my first injury in my career, period, playing football. Of course you have your nicks and bruises playing football, but that was my first significant one. So to get hit with that as my first, it was kind of… it was, of course, discouraging.
Especially because of my mindset at that time going into that season. My confidence was so high. I had a great offseason as far as workout wise, I had a great OTAs and I was with the Rams at the time. My body — I personally felt I was in the best shape that I’ve ever been in. So, when I tore it, I just thought about all that hard work that I had committed myself to. I was at my peak and for that to happen… that’s more of what I was thinking about rather than my knee.
All that hard work had just gone away.
My agent, he called me that night and we talked about it for a minute and he told me ‘you have the rest of your night to sit and cry about it, because tomorrow starts a whole new journey, because sitting around crying isn’t going to fix your leg.’
It was straight to the point, it wasn’t any kind of sympathy, it was mostly ‘it is what it is’ and this surgery can go as well as you want it to. You can come all the way back strong — or — some people don’t come back from this injury.
You have your days where you just attack, attack, attack, and some days where, it just gets overwhelming sometimes. One day you were driving in a car, the next day you can barely sit in a car.
Sometimes it’s deeper than getting back on the field because it’s just regular life stuff you couldn’t do. My mom had to come out and take care of me for two weeks because I could barely stand up to use the bathroom. It was kind of tough but you have times like that to drive you on through life. It taught me a lot about myself as a person and a man and how you respond when adversity strikes.
So I definitely have to baby it, that’s what my therapist always would tell me. You have to get it ready and you have to get it warmed up and it has to be routine. You have to give yourself a few extra minutes than you normally would for a game or for practice to warm up the quad, the knee itself, but more so definitely the quad because the quad and the knee kind of work together.
Pretty much just getting out there and getting running around to wake it up. You’ve got to treat it like an old man, you know?
It’s all about getting yourself ready because that’s our job as football players: to play football and be available and be ready. Be well-conditioned, be aware of the nutrition, be well-rested; it goes with the physical aspect of playing football and being at your best so you can avoid injuries for the most part. Stay accountable and be ready for when your name is called.
I was off of a team last season, at the end of last season, so I was really working out pretty much all year and just waiting for that phone call all offseason.
Even the times when I would typically just vacation, I was still working out because I wasn’t on a team and I could have been getting phone calls for workouts and things like that. I guess the times I would typically not be doing anything I was still working out really all the way through, so I never really had a vacation time all the way through training camp.
As you grow you start to realize how long you can vacation yourself and relax and catch up with friends and family in the offseason. There’s a deadline where you’ve got to start getting into the workout phase and there’s a time when you know, it’s all work, no play. It’s mostly just the wisdom of your deadlines and how to conduct yourself within them.
Growing up through high school and college, if you stay in your books and stay in your film and stay off your feet it elevates you. I don’t try to do too much or look for some secret potion. As bland as it sounds, that’s my routine.
Watching a guy like Arian Foster though, you definitely pick up some of his routines and stuff from someone of his stature. The questions he asks in meetings, they’re a little bit more in depth than just ‘run to the right, run to the left’. There’s more to it. It’s interesting hearing the questions and how significant the questions are.
You watch everything down to the way he warms up. He’s mostly the guy you learn from just seeing how he works on a day-to-day basis.
For the most part of my day-to-day I really try to focus on the basic stuff. Stick to your routine. Practice, get home, get off your feet, hydrate, keep your meals around the clock, and the main thing is just hydration and staying off your feet when you’re not working. Staying out of the way, not going out and getting drunk or anything like that. As simple as it sounds it can be hard to some guys. Literally just go to work, come home and be lazy.
Typical film study and staying in your playbook. Growing up through high school and college, if you stay in your books and stay in your film and stay off your feet it elevates you. I don’t try to do too much or look for some secret potion. As bland as it sounds, that’s how I get ready and that’s my routine.