ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –During the 2013 offseason program, much of the chatter was concerned about tempo for the upcoming season even though opening day was still several months away.
"Tempo is important to everything, no matter what the sport," Head Coach John Fox said during minicamp. "We're just tinkering with some ideas and things to do to maybe increase the tempo. We'll have to vary that depending on who we play and where we play them."
Before the Broncos can reach full speed, the strength and conditioning staff has to lay the foundation upon which a faster offense can build. That's a process that begins in the offseason.
"For us, the front of your body is for show, the back of your body is for go," Strength and Conditioning Coach Luke Richesson said. "We put a lot of emphasis upon the hamstrings, the glutes, the lower back, the back, the triceps. They'll get the right training to make sure that they're going to address those needs."
Several players talked about the conditioning demands of the new tempo during minicamp. Wide Receiver Demarius Thomas said that conditioning was his "main focus" in the summer.
Fellow wideout Eric Decker said that the new tempo should give the offense an added advantage, especially at home, as they keep the defense on the field and prevent them from getting different substitution packages on the field.
Secondary Coach Cory Undlin has seen that added intensity affect his unit's competitiveness in the offseason.
"Every one of our guys in the back is getting tested and they're competing at a very high level every single day," Undlin said in June. "Especially with this tempo that they're doing, they're not stopping. I think if you asked any of those guys, they wouldn't want it any other way."
With that added intensity and competiveness, endurance is at a premium. That's one of the main aspects that Richesson and his staff are working to improve.
"With our altitude, with the tempo that we work at, and the amount of volume that we do, a lot of it becomes managing fatigue," Richesson said. "That means making sure we have in place regeneration protocols, the right soft-tissue, the right flexibility, and making sure that we're prescribing the right stability exercises. Also, power. Those would be the biggest things that we've addressed."
Richesson added that up through the end of minicamp, their regimens were strength- and power-based and he and his staff were trying to have the players' conditioning levels where they could compete in OTAs, not necessarily for four quarters of football. That kind of conditioning starts after minicamp ends.
The strength and conditioning staff doesn't have individual programs for every player for the time off between minicamp and the start of training camp, but they do provide general guidelines. He did mention that while the program might not be specific to one individual, they do provide individualized heart rate zones and strength and power numbers for each exercise. Since different athletes will have access to different types of facilities, the exercises need to be replicable in different gyms. "We're making sure that they're ready to step into training camp and compete with everything they've got," Richesson said.