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mesaSteeler
07-16-2009, 07:30 PM
NFL from the sidelines
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/jim_trotter/07/16/wrs/index.html?eref=T1

After hobnobbing around the NFL in the press boxes and sidelines, sports reporter Dale Lolley will let you know the insider scoop.
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Spaeth working with Fitzgerald

There was an interesting story on SI.com today about a camp Larry Fitzgerald is running in Minnesota for NFL receivers and defensive backs with help from Jerry Rice and Cris Carter.

One of the players in attendance at the camp has been Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth.

If you haven't checked out the story yet, give it a read. (See below - mesa)

INSIDE THE NFL
Jim Trotter

Fitzgerald fights complacency by hosting receiver camp in Minnesota

This is supposed to be a quiet time in the NFL, with players and coaches enjoying the final two weeks of vacation before the start of training camp. Yet the noise coming out of Minneapolis cannot be ignored.

A PhD course for wide receivers is taking place inside the newly constructed football stadium at the University of Minnesota, where last week's instructor was Jerry Rice, the future first-ballot Hall of Famer who holds every major receiving record, and this week's professor is Cris Carter, whose 130 touchdown catches rank fourth in league history.

The sessions are the brainchild of Arizona Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald, a Minnesota native who's working to have his name mentioned in the same sentence with the greats of the game when he's done playing. Instead of spending the offseason reflecting on his record-breaking performance for the Cardinals in last season's playoffs, Fitzgerald has spent the past two months draining his cell-phone battery to bring talented receivers and cornerbacks for group workouts.

Among the wideouts who have made the trip are Denver's Brandon Marshall, Buffalo's Lee Evans, Green Bay's Greg Jennings, Tampa Bay's Michael Clayton, Minnesota's Sidney Rice and Cleveland rookie Brian Robiskie. Cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Malcolm Jenkins have also attended, as have tight ends Matt Spaeth and Dominique Byrd and linebacker James Laurinaitis. Dallas QB Tony Romo is a maybe for next week.

"Larry hit me up a couple of days ago and was like, 'Hey, let's get back to old times,' " says Hall, who trained with Fitzgerald in Florida in 2005, when each earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. "I was like, hell yeah. It's good to have players out here who can definitely make you work and get you better. That's why when he ran down the list of some of the guys that were coming, I was like, I'm there."

Fitzgerald booked hotel rooms for each of them and set up a chow line at his lakefront home in Eden Prairie, where some guys pass the down time by jet skiing or playing in pick-up basketball games. Despite the fun, at no time does anyone lose sight of the fact that he is there to improve his football skills.

Rice and Carter can be brutally honest, such as when Carter tells Byrd, the Arizona tight end with an admitted reputation for being lazy: "You're a wide receiver in a fat man's body."

Layered beneath the jokes are information nuggets. Rice and Carter aren't just telling them how to do something, but why they're doing it. The unspoken truth is that ignorance is as deadly as speed.

Carter is big on technique, adding: "Everyone at this level has athletic talent. You need more than that to make it."

When Evans glanced at the players assembled, he shook his head. It's one thing to get guys to train in Miami during their free time, but Minneapolis? The gathering was a testament to Fitzgerald's powers of persuasion and the players' desire to get better.

"It's an opportunity for me to get a chance to come out here and see some of the things that they do, to work with Cris Carter a little bit and see how he sees things, just be around the guys," says Evans. "I couldn't make it last week when Jerry was here, but I definitely wanted to come up and see what Cris had to say. It's a good deal anytime you can hear something different and try to diversify your game a little bit.

"The way Cris teaches us to run a route, I never heard it put that way. What he was teaching wasn't new. It's just the way he said it that you could relate to. Like they always say, there's more than one way to skin a cat. You've got to find what works for you. It may or may not help you, but it worked for him and you see what kind of career he had."

The mornings are basically on-field chalkboard sessions. Ideas are shared and compared. But let there be no doubt, the workouts are as demanding physically as they are enlightening mentally. Different days are devoted to different things, be it improving speed, agility, strength, technique. One of the mornings concluded with the players running 16 110-yard sprints, with limited rest in between. It was enough to make an onlooker feel like he was going to lose his breakfast.

"Complacency is a terrible thing to have in our business," says Fitzgerald. "Todd Haley talked to me about that our first year together [in Arizona]. It's kind of the worst thing you can ever have in sports -- complacency in losing, complacency in winning. You must never forget the hard work that it takes to be successful out there."

That's the kind of talk that could have the Cardinals making noise in the playoffs again this season.

Email comments to siwriters@simail.com

TheWarDen86
07-16-2009, 07:32 PM
Cool. I wonder of Sweed showed an interest. If I were a young WR in the NFL I'd be soaking up all the knowledge, tips and tricks I can.

mesaSteeler
07-16-2009, 09:36 PM
Cool. I wonder of Sweed showed an interest. If I were a young WR in the NFL I'd be soaking up all the knowledge, tips and tricks I can.

He had better start showing an interest if he gets beaten out of the third wide receiver slot.

MasterOfPuppets
07-16-2009, 10:01 PM
i'd much rather read that spaeth was at a linemen camp learning how to freakin block !!!

tony hipchest
07-16-2009, 10:25 PM
sweeds best bet is being handcuffed to hines ward.

Big7BenHOF
07-17-2009, 01:52 AM
Fitzgerald tweeted at me and said Spaeth is a beast and looking great.

Galax Steeler
07-17-2009, 03:45 AM
I wished Fitz. would rub off on Spaeth and turn him into a catching machine.

CanadianSteel
07-17-2009, 09:36 AM
How did Speath get an invite to that ? He seems like an odd choice in that group of receivers uinless he is buddies with one of them.

Hope he can learn to at leats get some YAC instead of just falling to the ground.

Steel Head
07-17-2009, 10:03 AM
How did Speath get an invite to that ? He seems like an odd choice in that group of receivers uinless he is buddies with one of them.

Hope he can learn to at leats get some YAC instead of just falling to the ground.

probably because he went to school at Minnesota and Fitz lives in Minnesota, they somehow hooked up

CanadianSteel
07-17-2009, 12:09 PM
probably because he went to school at Minnesota and Fitz lives in Minnesota, they somehow hooked up

Ya was thinking that after posted, remembering that Spaeth was drafted from Minnesotta

STEELAMANIA
07-17-2009, 04:47 PM
Sweed doesn't need to attend this camp. I wouldn't be surprised if he beats out Ward or Holmes in the starting lineup.
:flap:

And I hope Spaeth gets cut. Faster TEs will be at camp this month.

MasterOfPuppets
07-17-2009, 05:22 PM
Fitzgerald tweeted at me and said Spaeth is a beast and looking great.
that just sounds disturbingly gay ...:popcorn:

The Definiti0n
07-18-2009, 03:28 AM
I hope this helps Spaeth hopefully he can turn into that huge red zone target the Big Ben wants.

This is kinda off topic. But remember before last years draft when Big Ben said he likes tall big receivers? I think its funny that we end up winning the Superbowl and a 5'10 receiver makes the game winning catch!!

Fire Haley
07-18-2009, 11:35 PM
"You're a wide receiver in a fat man's body."

That's pretty funny

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-19-2009, 01:06 AM
i'd much rather read that spaeth was at a linemen camp learning how to freakin block !!!

I completely agree. Do you remember another 2nd string Steeler TE that was a pretty decent receiving TE in the Big 10 that was a much poorer blocker than the starter??

I seem to remember Jerame Tuman improving as a blocker and it was probably the only thing that kept him as a Steeler for a long period of time. Right now Spaeth is the 3rd best blocking TE on the team.....and maybe 4th, depending on how the 7th rounder is.

MasterOfPuppets
07-19-2009, 01:21 AM
I completely agree. Do you remember another 2nd string Steeler TE that was a pretty decent receiving TE in the Big 10 that was a much poorer blocker than the starter??

I seem to remember Jerame Tuman improving as a blocker and it was probably the only thing that kept him as a Steeler for a long period of time. Right now Spaeth is the 3rd best blocking TE on the team.....and maybe 4th, depending on how the 7th rounder is.
for me it was his effort, or lack there of in his blocks that drove me nuts... he certainly didn't play to the whistle from what i saw.200 lb hines ward would have been more as effective at blocking from the TE position as spaeth was ...:doh:

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-19-2009, 11:20 AM
for me it was his effort, or lack there of in his blocks that drove me nuts... he certainly didn't play to the whistle from what i saw.200 lb hines ward would have been more as effective at blocking from the TE position as spaeth was ...:doh:

Spaeth just looked slow off the ball to me on the line of scrimmage. The d lineman gets across the line before he does.

I remember fans hacking on Colon for a failed goaline play vs. the Cowboys, but it was Spaeth next to him that missed the block. Again in the playoffs and Super Bowl I remember seeing him being slow and letting defenders shoot the gap next to him.

fansince'76
07-19-2009, 11:24 AM
And I hope Spaeth gets cut.

Me too, we need more cap room for SWEEEEEEEEEED! :chuckle: