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  • Writer's pictureTerry O'Neil

Cautionary Tales from NFL Camps

NFL training camps are open and, as always, they are producing cautionary tales about practice contact.

At Pittsburgh Steelers camp Tuesday in Latrobe, PA, quarterback Ben Roethlisbergersuffered a blow to the head and was placed in concussion protocol. Contact on quarterbacks is forbidden in all NFL camps, but a teammate accidentally collided withRoethisberger, sending a collective shudder through the League.

On the other hand, at Detroit Lions camp Tuesday in Allen Park, MI, the Lions and New York Giants ran an efficient three-hour joint practice with no incidents, no contact injuries, because the respective head coaches, Matt Patricia and Pat Shurmur, were explicit and vigilant about rules of engagement. From yesterday's New York Post report of the practice:

"The coaches set the tone and the players follow," (Giants) tight end Rhett Ellison said. There was no tackling to the ground and only "thud" type of contact. "I thought it was a very competitive practice," Shurmur said. "We keep telling 'em, and Matt and I are on the same page -- if you compete and stay on your feet, we can get a lot done." Matthew Stafford and the Lions scored on the Giants' starting defense in the two-minute drill, getting a Stafford-to-Marvin Jones Jr. touchdown pass between Eli Apple and Curtis Riley, who pulled up at the last moment to avoid a hit. "Big collision," said Riley when asked what would have happened in an actual game.

Here is the definition of "thud" practice format as generally accepted by NFL coaches. It is applicable to all levels of the game:

Thud -- Full speed, contact above the waist only, nobody taken to the ground. Each player is responsible to ensure that a teammate with whom he engages is not taken to the ground. (In the case of scrimmage or joint practice with another team, the same applies to practice-mates.) There is no winner or loser, pre-determined or otherwise. Coaches are not grading physical domination in thud. Teammates/practice-mates are merely trying to give each other a simulation of full-speed game action. Thud is not live/full contact.Thud is an alternative to live/full contact.

"The Mad Bomber" Checks In

Daryle Lamonica, twice AFL MVP and Pro Bowl quarterback of the Buffalo Bills andOakland Raiders, long-time supporter of Practice Like Pros, messaged earlier this month:  

Terry, I like what you are doing about not too much hitting.  More important is the timing of each play, pass or run, which helps everyone be in position to execute their responsibilities on every play.  Keep up the good work!  If I can ever help, give me a call.  -- Daryle Lamonica

More Reaction from Mississippi More reaction to our July 19 presentation with Archie Manning to the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) Clinic in Jackson, MS:

What an outstanding presentation at our Mississippi All Sports Clinic. Fantastic! Would you please send me all the videos in your presentation, especially the one demonstrating non-tackling practice and thud protocol. I would like to show them at our upcoming parent meeting. Thanks again for coming to our clinic. Coach David Streit St. Joseph Catholic School Madison, MS

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