Michael Lombardi, over at NFL.com, has a great column up today which helps crystalize something I've been thinking about for awhile - namely, how guys like Ryan Pickett and Howard Green, who have both struggled to report to training camps in shape with the benefit of a full offseason, will be effected by the extended time away from the team as a result of the lockout.
Another area of concern is conditioning -- not so much for players to handle the rigors of camp, but more for the overweight guys who struggle to monitor their weight all season with supervision. Every team has one or two or even three guys who -- without supervision -- can gain 30 pounds at the drop of a hat. During bye weeks, teams worry about their "fat" guys gaining too much weight. Imagine how much they gained during this lockout. After more than 100 days without someone over their shoulders prompting them to eat right and work hard, there is no telling how "fat" the "fat" guys have gotten.
My concern is that, when the lockout is lifted, overweight players might try to lose weight by taking saunas or trying to use medication to help shed pounds. The league does not want or need another Korey Stringer incident because of the lockout. Every team will have key players report out of shape, overweight and not ready for camp -- that is the reality of this lockout. Teams must manage their "fat" players before letting them practice.
Excellent advice for the Packers as they evaluate Pickett and Green. Pickett has had issues in the past passing McCarthy's conditioning test and Green has had issues with his weight at almost every one of the six NFL teams he's been on.
Its true that defensive coordinator Dom Capers told reporters last year that he wasn't concerned with how heavy Green was after he was cut by the New York Jets for coming back from the bye week well over weight after specifically being told to monitor it. But that was one week after Green had been playing football for months. Both Green and Pickett have been away from the watchful eyes of the coaching and training staffs for well over four months.
Whatever their conditions when they arrive for training camp, the Packers would do well to heed Lombardi's words and take extra care of their big men during the early stages of camp.