Riemersma should flourish in new offense

Injuries have prevented Jay Riemersma from reaching his potential. Still, his output has been steady – he caught 37 passes in 1999, 31 passes in 2000. Offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard thinks Riemersma can be better, however: "In this offense, if he stays healthy, Jay can go to Hawaii."

Sheppard believes Riemersma is talented enough to equal or surpass Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez or Tennessee's Frank Wycheck as an elite NFL tight end. But injuries have had the knack of holding him back.

"The injuries that I've had are pretty major injuries," Riemersma said. "There's not a lot that I could have done differently strength and conditioning-wise in order to combat that I don't think."

In 2000, Riemersma tore his MCL when he got hit from the side vs. the Jets in September. He returned later in the season, but was never fully recovered. In 1999, he suffered a groin injury, which required surgery.

This year Riemersma said he's entering training camp in very good shape, feeling strong for the first time in a long time. Because he was relatively injury free before this season, Riemersma had time to strengthen his abdominal muscles, groin and legs. Comparably, last training camp, he was still healing from his groin surgery and his training, consequently, took a hit.

"With the knee injury last season (combined with the groin injury the year before), I hadn't been able to squat for a couple of years. I was finally able to do that before this season. I'm a lot leaner. My core strength is there where it wasn't (there) at all at the start of last season."

Riemersma has individual numbers-oriented goals for the season, but he was reluctant to share them. Generally, he wants to be one of the team's top offensive weapons, and this camp will help him prove that.

"I want to be one of the go-to guys. Eric is a go-to guy. You almost have to have a couple in the passing game to really move the chains. I think that I've been able to establish that relationship with quarterbacks in the past."

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