All in the Routine

Members of the New York Giants offensive line work out during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, in East Rutherf
Members of the New York Giants offensive line work out during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Finally, we got a pair of wins. It's great to win as a team. The bumps and bruises don't hurt as much and my knee is starting to feel better as well. Our team win (against Minnesota) just helped everyone -- more than anything it helped the morale of the team. It also reassured the young guys that the work they've been putting in is not in vain. It's about working towards a common goal, becoming a team, and we finally did that. In our first victory, we had no turnovers on offense, we created some turnovers on defense, and we made some plays on special teams. It was a great team win, and I'm happy we finally got two underneath our belt.

I really want to change the direction in this blog post; I want to share with you the aspects of my routine that go behind preparing for an opponent in the NFL -- a more in-depth breakdown of my daily schedule. My Monday routine is to come in to the Giants' facility, lift, and review film with the team. I try to stay off my feet and really try to relax on Mondays to start to prepare for our next opponent. On Tuesdays, it is a league-mandated day-off for players. I usually wake up early and head to the facility, get a good workout in, and do some rehab on my knee. I engage in a contrast between the cold tub and hot tub to refresh my legs for about 20 minutes. After I am done with my workout and rehab, I head home to prepare for my weekly massage. It's important to take care of your body, so I have bi-weekly massages on Tuesdays and Fridays during the season. After that, I usually enjoy some time in the city or run some errands. At night, I like to catch up on film by watching the last four games of my opponent. I try to get a feel for their game plan and how they're going to attack us. On Wednesdays, we have team meetings at 8 a.m., or rather at 7:55 a.m. Coughlin time. In the meetings, we address our opponent and how we are going to beat them. Then, we break into offense and defense. On the defensive side, the coaches and defensive coordinator go over our game plan for the week. Typically, it's broken-down by personnel, first down, third down, red zone, short yardage, and tendencies -- all of which are little things that Coach Coughlin does a great job of preparing us for.

That's the easy part; the static routine that never changes for 17 weeks is the hard part.

The weekly routine can feel mundane at times, and sometimes it's tough just to pay attention, but at the end of the day, this is our job. This is what we're supposed to do; this is what we're paid to do! We are paid to play a game that we love. It's just some things that you have to find ways to get through. Being a six-year veteran has allowed me to find ways to mentally get through a grueling season.

More importantly, I want to tell you the routine that I go through to get ready for practice. Usually, I have about one hour before practice to get ready. I like to start off in our underwater treadmill, where I do a five-minute warmup just getting my legs and knee moving. The main thing in coming off of a surgery is that everything can get tight, sore, and just ache. The resistance in the water helps me to loosen up my knee, and it allows me to be less stiff going into practice. After the underwater treadmill, I hit the hot tub for five minutes or so. Then, I go into the steam room for five minutes. I stretch and do squats, to, again, stay loose and keep warm, because when you're tight that can cause injuries. Afterward, I shower and get ready for practice. I then have ultrasound therapy on my knee to warm it up again. Band work follows, which I've been doing since day one after tearing my ACL; this to warm up my glutes. I stretch and then get on our Associate Head Athletic Trainer, Byron Hansen's go to machine, "the Quad Mill." This works so many of your muscle groups including the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. This is an X-factor when coming off of an ACL surgery, in my opinion.

Now, it's time to get ready for practice -- put on the pads, lace-up the cleats, and head out. Pretty much, that is how I do it. In my routine, a good 30-45 minute warm-up is critical. It's easy to say, "To hell with it," and go out there and see what happens, but, especially in my position, that is not a luxury I can afford.

In writing this blog, the biggest thing for me is to give my readers insight on what it's like to be a professional athlete. In the end, we are only human and we sacrifice a lot. We give a lot to this game, and we truly love it.