Players staying in shape for lockout’s end

James Carpenter lines up for a play during the 2009 Iron Bowl in Auburn. He and many other former UA players are facing the challenge of staying in shape during the NFL Lockout.

UA Athletics

After nearly four months, there is still a National Football League lockout and no professional football in session.

As NFL team owners and the NFL Players’ Association ponder on forming an agreement, players themselves are still putting in work on the field. Former UA football players that are now in the NFL have been working out on their own in preparation for the season once the lockout ends.

Seattle Seahawks rookie offensive tackle James Carpenter has been working out in Duluth, Ga., at Competitive Edge Sports. He said it’s different doing things on his own, without a coach or teammates present all the time.

“It’s different because I’m used to having coaches pushing me, making sure I get up, but now I have to get up myself,” Carpenter said. “I was always a hard worker, so I have no problem with it, but nobody’s giving me a set time to get up now.”

The New Orleans Saints held team practices without coaches for six weeks, according to Yahoo! Sports report. In an interview last month with ProPlayerInsiders.com, Saints rookie running back Mark Ingram talked about his workouts with his teammates.

“Everybody’s trying to stay in shape and keep the team chemistry there,” Ingram said. “Everybody’s out here working hard and training and getting together, even though we’re locked out. All of the guys, I think, look forward to this, and it’s good to get out here, work with the guys and get to know them.”

As also stated on Yahoo! Sports, players on other teams have been holding meetings, self-organized practice and things of the like. There has been no decision reached between the owners and Players’ Association as of yet, while the first preseason game is set to kick off on Aug. 7.

Other UA alumni players, including Kansas City Chiefs cornerback and punt return specialist Javier Arenas, have been in Tuscaloosa during the lockout. Arenas has been working out, as well as helping out with tornado relief efforts while in Tuscaloosa.

Like many NFL players, Carpenter said he has no idea how close the league is to reaching an agreement, and he’s looking forward to its end.

“I hope it gets done pretty soon, because I’m ready to get to my coach and learn as much as I can and to work out with my teammates.”

Ingram said in the ProPlayerInsiders.com interview, “I think it’s smart [to continue working out] because you don’t know what’s going to happen with the lockout situation. I think, just the fact that most of the guys are training and taking initiative to get themselves in shape is good, because the lockout can be lifted at any time. Just to know that the guys are ready, I think that’s good.”

A recent ESPN report stated that there is belief that an agreement could be reached during the July 21 league meetings that will be held in Atlanta. Some of the issues the two sides are debating are rookie wages and contract lengths. There have been 41 UA alums drafted by the NFL in the past nine years. Five players were drafted this year.