It was 93 degrees when a long, physical, grueling training camp practice finally ended, and Lane Johnson, sweat pouring down his face in the midday sun, walked off the field and said this:
That was fun. Nice and cold out here today so we weren’t really sweating a whole lot.
You see where he's going here.
Johnson has been through enough training camps and enough 93-degree days to understand that the mental challenge of getting through it is as big as the physical challenge.
Don’t complain about how hot it is. Don’t complain about how long practice is. Don’t complain about how sore you are. The only way to get through it is to focus on the real reason you’re out there.
The next play.
I think it’s something that took me a couple years to really understand,” receiver Greg Ward Jr. said. “Everybody’s hot, it’s hot out there, but you have to figure out how to really focus on your job on that snap and just put the heat out of your mind and not even think about it. The more you’re able to do that, the more you’re able to go out there and show what kind of player you are. If you're worried about how hot it is or how cold it is, you won't be able to do that.
Tuesday’s practice was the fifth of training camp, but at nearly 2½ hours it was the longest and with two extended live periods it was also the most physical.
And with temperatures in the mid-90s on a cloudless July day, it was by far the most difficult.
You gotta love it,” Sidney Jones said. “Days like this is where we get better. Honestly, we look forward to it. It’s football. You step on that field, the only thing on your mind is dominating and you just keep that going because your brothers are doing it, too, and it has to be a team effort.
Doug Pederson even added a live drill in which the offensive starters faced the defensive starters, which is rare.
“Something new, something different,” Jones said. “Just great competition, making each other better. It’s always 1s vs. 3s. So 1s vs. 1s, that’s good-on-good and the competition was great.”
The highlight of practice Tuesday was an 80-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to JJ Arcega-Whiteside that was tipped by Nelson Agholor and set off an end zone celebration by the entire offense. You can read more about that play in Dave Zangaro’s daily practice observations (see story).
Pederson’s message to the team was to ignore the heat, don’t talk about it and don’t even think about it, and focus on football. Focus on getting better. Focus on what’s important.
The competition goes up because half of it is that you want to get better, but the other half is you’re trying to not think about the heat,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “So you have to go out there and play fast and think about what you have to do instead of how bad you feel, and that’s what we did out there, and it was fun because it worked. We were thinking more about how to win instead of how hot it was.
Interesting to note that everybody that started practice finished it.
That’s not always the case with a session like this. There are sometimes rookies who can’t handle the grind or veterans who’ve had enough of it.
It’s a good sign that young and old, offense and defense, first-round picks and undrafted rookies, battled through 2½ hours without a single player puking on the sideline or hobbling off the field early and into the air-conditioned trainer's room with an alleged injury.
This time right now you grow from being a boy to being a man,” Rodney McLeod said. “It’s a man’s game and you see who’s really out here and who you can trust when it’s time to play games, man.
And then there was Johnson, who got an extra kick out of practice because he was mic’d up for the entire session.
There may be some good footage,” he said. “I wish they didn’t edit it out but they probably will. We do have kids watching. We may need to make it rated R.
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