Then a few thousand Chiefs fans on the internet watched a video of Holmes, a harness draped about his shoulders, dragging a tractor behind him. Later on he would jump over some cows or trains or something – I don't remember. The important thing to remember is how inspirational that video was, and how it foreshadowed the great 2003 season Holmes would enjoy.
He's not lugging around farm equipment, but Holmes' successor, Larry Johnson, has spent the current offseason performing his own brand of Herculean workouts. As reported by Sports Illustrated in March, Johnson has spent some time with training guru Joe Carini over the last few months.
Carini is best known - in NFL terms - as the man who helped former Giants running back Tiki Barber excel during the twilight of his career. Since there's no rousing video of Johnson destroying barbells and getting pumped to be found, we have to wait until the games begin to see what Carini's done to him.
In the meantime, we can investigate exactly what Carini did to Barber. We know he set career-highs in rushing yardage, touchdowns and yards per carry in his final three seasons, but how?
For the answer, I went straight to the best experts I could find – the people who witnessed Barber's transformation over those last three years. Giants fans (they're nicer than you think – really!).
The biggest difference the fans at Big Blue Interactive and Big Blue Wrecking Crew noticed in Barber between 2003 and 2004 was power. Carini's rigorous strength training packed 18 pounds of muscle onto Barber's frame (over three years) and transformed a 190-pound running back with limited upper body strength into a Holmes-like specimen.
"Carini gave Tiki the power, in his midsection, and upper body to take a beating and make decisive cuts. He was able to run through some tackles."
– "RAIN," Big Blue Interactive.
"Tiki was a lot stronger and played with more power after he started working with [Carini]. It's scary to think what he can do with LJ since the guy is already powerful."
It's worth noting that before Carini, Barber's fumble problems were a real issue. He dropped the pigskin nine times in 2003. Post-Carini, Barber would fumble nine times combined over his last three seasons.
Carini's workouts also chiseled Barber's body. "Will in NJ" from BBI showed Barber's transformation from '02 to '03 with a simple pair of photos. In the first, Barber has little definition, while in the second his physique is much more impressive. Looking at photos of Johnson from Chiefs OTAs this offseason, the same metamorphosis seems to have taken place with LJ (although less noticeable as Johnson was no lightweight before).
It's doubtful Johnson is looking to gain as much weight as Barber did. It's hard to picture him playing at almost 250 pounds. It's a safe bet Carini has Johnson on the same program as another Giants running back, the thunder to Barber's departed lightning – Brandon Jacobs.
"Osi Osi Osi OyOyOy" (let's hear it for ridiculous usernames!) from BBI chimes in on Jacobs' routine:
"Jacobs has said that Carini is helping him strengthen his core and helping him become more explosive and quicker. I'm assuming that's what LJ is doing as well."
That sounds like a perfect recipe if Johnson is to improve upon what he did a year ago. Long runs were rare for Johnson, and only one of his rushing touchdowns was longer than 11 yards. This was a departure from 2005, when LJ ripped off scoring runs of 49, 35, 23, 21 and 20 yards.
"RAIN" elaborates on this subject and another benefit of Carini's training:
"You'll see a Larry Johnson that rebounds better healthwise, game to game, and explodes more consistently, through the hole during the course of a game."
Avoiding injury sounds like the perfect reason for Johnson to buddy up with Carini. After 416 carries last season, LJ is primed to join the likes of Jamal Anderson and Eric Dickerson. Barber never took 400 carries, but endured loads of 374, 411 and 385 touches over his last three seasons. He never missed a game.
"It helped Tiki out tremendously. Tiki has always trained hard, but this guy really moved him to the next level. I think it will help with the wear and tear on his body."
- "ZogZerg," BBI.
Not only was Barber stronger and more explosive, one fan characterized the way he finished his runs as "Sweetness-like," a reference to Walter Payton. Another said the added strength improved Barber's blocking – clearly an area Johnson could use some help in.
So, are these Giants fans prophets? We won't know until September. But if Carini can do for Johnson what he did for Barber, every Chiefs fan should send him a thank-you letter.
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