Jags Working Hard During Off Season

When a team is in the midst of a losing streak, the players can't wait to get back out on the field for the next game with the hope of ending the streak.

That's what makes a season-ending losing streak so tough. Players know they can't change it for another seven months when the next season starts. But in the case of the Jacksonville Jaguars, stuck with a four-game skid to end the 2009 season, they're hard at work preparing for when they can go out and get back to winning ways.

For the Jaguars, it all starts in the weight room. That's where players prepare themselves for the coming season, working hard to be as strong, flexible and fast as they can be for the upcoming season. And equally important, was to avoid season-ending injuries that can cripple a team's chances to reach the playoffs.

A year ago, from Sept. 1 through Jan. 4, the Jaguars placed 10 players on injured reserve, including eight players who would have started or been key reserves. In January of 2009, the Jaguars made a change in their strength and conditioning department after a number of key players missed most of the season due to injuries.

Luke Richesson had spent the previous 10 years as a performance specialist at Athletes' Performance in Phoenix where he had been know for his motivation tactics and passion to help athletes prepare for the NFL Combine and to help NFL veterans prepare for the rigors of the season. Among those who he worked with were the last four number one overall picks in the NFL draft and 52 first-round selections from 2001-2009.

Prior to the start of the Jaguars offseason strength and conditioning drills this week, Richesson evaluated his first season with the team.

"Coming in, one of the concerns during the interview process was injuries and making sure we fielded our team and got them to Sunday," he said. "When we came in, we didn't want to push the envelope in the weight room and potentially create more problems with guys. We were very cautious and we had a solid setup for the weight room, but it was a barebones plan because we didn't need more for the first year for what we wanted to do in the program.

"After the year was over and doing a needs analysis of where we stacked up and where we need to move forward, I felt good about the injuries but there was an area we wanted to hit -- strength and power. [Team owners] Mr. and Mrs. Weaver provided us every opportunity to set up the weight room exactly the way we needed it to be done. If there is a better room in the country then I want to see it."

Richesson said he didn't feel any resistance from the players who have come in to see the new equipment that is spread throughout the weight room. It includes the state of the art machines and include 16 Keyser machines and 12 squat racks.

"After last season and the four-game skid of how we finished, I don't think anyone is wanting to take anything off," he noted. "If anything, there were guys wanting to do another [rep]. I had to taper them back and rein them in.

"It is day one and we want to make sure we are seeing this all the way through and finishing strong. There was nothing but positive that came out of today and I'm very optimistic about what we're capable of."

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