As Baltimore Beatdown's Vasilis Lericos pointed out about a month ago, the Ravens have a new Director of Performance and Recovery, Steve Saunders, and he is now executing the new season-long scheme designed to reduce team injuries this week at the Voluntary Strength and Conditioning Program.
"We're running a lot -- way more than we have in the past," Ravens CB Jimmy Smith told Ryan Mink of Baltimore Ravens.com. "I think a lot of people are shocked by how intense it is."
Sanders has a tried-and-true method, as he founded Power Train Sports Institute, complete with 28 locations nationwide. From now on, Mondays and Wednesdays are speed days, Tuesdays and Thursdays are power days. Speed days include 60-yard sprints, multiple times, and a myriad of quickness/burst exercises. His goal includes reducing injuries and elongating freshness throughout the season.
"Injuries are muscle imbalances," Saunders told Mink. "Their overuse or fatigue. How can we look at that, get ahead of it, monitor it and really try to stop the nuisance injuries?"
The plan includes actual digital imagery of the bodies of the players, to identify weak points, and then helping the athlete's body to correctly adjust for healing. One player than stand to gain is WR Michael Campanaro, who has been the victim of the nuisance injuries such as a pulled hamstring, over the course of his two seasons.
"Recovery, to me, is whether they can practice tomorrow at as high a level as they did today," Saunders said to Mink. "Can they perform in Week 16 like they did in Week 1? We’re trying to put that whole system in place so we can have a successful year."
By running at top speed and all-out at the very beginning of workouts, but monitoring the body and being intentional about recovery time during the workouts and from day-to-day, Saunders' program can teach the athlete's body to have a higher standard of output and also, to recover faster, all the while protectively tweaking a player's reps so as to strengthen weak areas.
The players seem up for the challenge. "I think we’re going to be in great shape by OTAs – probably by next Friday," Smith said.
"Guys are paying attention …it’s going to translate to the field. I love to compete anyway," WR Kamar Aiken told Mink.
There is a lot of hard work, and it all begins with running. Sanders is prepared for the wrath: "Nobody took my tires off and keyed my truck yet, so I’m OK. But that could still happen."
They just may, but if healthier than the 19.5 Injured reserve entrants average for the past two years reduces greatly, perhaps they will be willing to pitch in for a new one with that Super Bowl check.
Run, Ravens, Run.