As the Jets report to training camp this week, you will likely hear about the players passing the conditioning test.
What is the conditioning test? It’s exactly what it sounds like. The Jets and most teams put their players through a test at the start of training camp to confirm they are in shape. Players are generally not allowed to begin practicing at camp until they pass the test.
The specifics of the test vary by team. Different position groups have different requirements.
I have yet to find the specifics of what Robert Saleh has required from the Jets the last two years, but a number of details for conditioning tests across the league have been revealed through the years.
The Rex Ryan Jets had the following test.
The Jets’ conditioning test consists of three types of interval sprints for linemen, the so-called mids (linebackers, tight ends and quarterbacks) and skill players (receivers, running backs and defensive backs).
The linemen run 20 40-yard dashes, and each must be under six seconds. There is a 30-second rest between each 40, and the sprints are split into two sets of 10 with a three-minute break in between.
The mids must run 20 50-yard dashes in under seven seconds, and the skill players need to run 20 60-yard dashes under eight seconds with the same 30-second rest between sprints and the same three-minute break between sets.
Here are some details on what the Baltimore Ravens do.
Players must run a total of 900 yards in six legs. Each set consists of 25 yards out and back three times. They must finish that heat of 150 yards under a designated time — 32 seconds for the offensive and defensive linemen, 29 seconds for the tight ends and linebackers and 27 seconds for the wide receivers, running backs and defensive backs. If you go over that time in any of the six legs, you flunk the test and have to take it over.
The break between each set is 64 seconds.
Here are some details about the Patriots’ conditioning tests.
“We’ll [skill position players] run 60 [yards] in eight seconds. Tight ends, running backs, they’ll run 50s in seven seconds and then linemen run 40s in like seven seconds,” cornerback Eric Rowe said. “It’s getting the same amount of work, and everybody’s still got to push, they’ve just got less yards. If you’ve been running it should be no problem.”
Back in 2010, former NFL player Matt Bowen described the various tests he had heard about and experienced during his career.
When I played it was a 300-yard shuttle. In different combinations (some require six 50-yard sprints and others require twelve 25-yard sprints), they add up to 300 total yards. Think of old-school gassers. Run, touch the line, and come back — over and over until you have run a total of 300 yards. Rest in between sets and get back on the line. The times are broken down into three position groups: skill (WR, DB, RB), semi-skill (LB, TE, QB) and linemen (OL, DL). Each group has a time they have to complete each set in.
In Green Bay, under Mike Sherman, you ran three of them — with about a two minute rest in between. They are nasty. For the skill guys, the time limit was under 48 seconds. We ran the 300-yard shuttle — made up of six 50-yard sprints — took that small rest and got ready to do it again. By the end, your legs feel like Jell-O.
Not every team does it. In Buffalo with Dick Jauron, if you went through the offseason program, you didn’t have to run a test. This was the case with Haynesworth in Washington. Didn’t show this spring and had to prove to head coach Mike Shanahan that he was in football shape. And, according to reports this morning, the DT has failed the test for the second straight day. Not good.
If you play defense for Gregg Williams, his test is on the day of the first practice — in pads. Forty up-downs in full gear right after the team stretch (which are filmed and watched in meetings). Not fun in the Virginia heat and I can’t even imagine what it is like to do 40-up downs in pads down in New Orleans right now. And, don’t forget that you have a full two-hour practice to get through after you pass his test. By the time you get to 7-on-7 drills, your body is spent.
A player who fails the conditioning test typically starts training camp on the physically unable to perform list and stays there until he passes the test. Passing the conditioning test is a prerequisite to start practicing.
In this day and age, players passing their conditioning test is a virtual certainty. NFL players are world class athletes who need to be in phenomenal shape to stay in the league. Somebody who is “out of shape” by NFL standards is still in better physical condition than 99 percent of the general population.
It would be a shock and a major news story if any uninjured player failed his conditioning test. But when you hear later this week that all healthy Jets players passed their test, you will have a better sense of what it means.