Today's newswire is about what we expect this time of year on a Sunday: a few scattered articles, without a lot of news. Tony Grossi takes the media session on Thursday as a jumping-off point for brief takes on each unit of the team. Other than that, there's not a lot. There are two columns in the Lake County News-Herald, however, that didn't make it onto the web, and we'll present a brief synopsis here. As usual, go out and buy the paper if you want the full version.
Hal's Morning Column: Hal Lebovitz's column, of course, is never on the web. Hal offers up some items that have come up here in Browns Uncensored Chat and elsewhere, including the great off-season conditioning programs of Ryan Tucker and Qasim Mitchell, as well as early indications that Chaun Thompson is ahead of schedule.
One interesting comment in Hal's column is that stockpiling running backs isn't unusual for Butch Davis. While some have concluded that the current four-deep situation at RB means that William Green might not be healthy, or that one of the backs is on the trading block, Hal offers that building a deep running back corps is exactly the pattern that Butch Davis followed at Miami.
Hal also says that Tim Couch and Courtney Brown will renegotiate their contracts shortly to help with signing the rookies. There's no indication of any specific progress there, so it's difficult to say whether Hal has some information or is speculating based on the notion that changes to those contracts would make sense for the team.
Jeff Schudel's NFL Notebook: Jeff Schudel argues that the defensive line, not quarterback, is critical for the team's success in 2003. The QB battle might get the most media attention, but either answer at that spot will be a capable performer. It's the underachieving defensive line that will determine who much of the team's immediate future.
Schudel discusses the differences between Campo's philosophy and that of his predecessor, Foge Fazio. Campo's approach is simpler, and requires less communication but more team speed. Gerard Warren's off-season progress gives a positive spin to the unit's prognosis heading into next season, as does Courtney Brown's recovery from micro-fracture surgery.
Schudel's column also notes the team's confidence about 2003 salary cap management. Although the Browns currently don't have enough room to sign their rookies, Davis offers that the team can "convert salary to signing bonus and create $3 million".
Watch the Ridge Hands, Courtney: The Sporting News presented an article on the unusual techniques that some teams use to refine their skills during the off-season. Thanks go out to Shannon for posting this on the Tipline. Things were pretty desperate on the Newswire this morning, so I swiped the article and put it there as well.
I wonder if these techniques will really help Courtney Brown and other players who are training with a local martial arts instructor. Folks who know me off-the-web know that martial arts are one of the few things, other than beer and football, that form a consistent interest in my life.
(That triad of interests, by the way, isn't necessarily a good combination for one's health if combined with a short temper. It's sort of like a hotel road sign I saw recently which had two upcoming events: A karaoke contest and a gun show. Danger! Danger!)
Regardless, the move described in the magazine article is similar to ones that are a staple of the martial arts school that I attend near my home. For self-defense purposes, you're just trying to avoid the punch and set yourself up with some distance for a counter-attack. The instructor seems to be combining some moves, however, with the intent of moving past the person throwing the punch. It's not anything that I'm familiar with, but I'd be interested to learn more about what is being taught to our players.
One thing that concerns me, though, is that a lot of these moves only really become useful with constant repetition in practice. If you're thinking about the move, these fancy maneuvers actually slow one down. You need to be able to act on muscle memory and instinct. That only really comes, for normal humans like myself, after move has been performed so many times that that it's second nature.
Another element of martial arts which might useful for NFL athletes are stretching techniques. Martial arts requires a great deal of flexibility which doesn't come naturally for men over the age of say, sixteen. It especially doesn't come naturally if you're, for example, a middle-aged doofus. Like me.
The only way to get the flexibility you need for martial arts, and avoid injury, is frequent and serious stretching of all the major muscle groups. After watching players half-heartedly stretch before a game or practice, I hope that they at least remember that.