For players on NFL teams that have yet to open training camp, these are the days for squeezing in those final moments of rest and relaxation before months of work begin.
Just a couple of more days at the beach. Just a few more rounds of golf. Let’s hit that favorite restaurant one more time.
But San Francisco 49ers cornerback Marcus Cromartie, for one, isn’t trying to milk those final moments of vacation. He’s very much looking forward to the opening of camp under new coach Chip Kelly.
“The off time’s been great, off time’s always great,” Cromartie told Bob Papa and Solomon Wilcots on The Opening Drive Tuesday. “But I think anticipation is high. Whenever you get a new coach, especially somebody like Chip Kelly, the uncertainty level certainly brings a new level of excitement, for sure. I think the guys are fired up. You can just tell by OTAs how we want to win. I think that’s the most important thing right now is winning and I think guys are going to buy into what Chip Kelly is selling.”
What Kelly is selling is that the 49ers, despite last season’s 5-11 finish, are not that far off from being a contender. He is reminding the players that they have plenty going for them.
“The strength is still experience,” Cromartie said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who played on that (2012) Super Bowl team. They have experience in what it is to win and you can’t take that for granted, and I think you just need a few leaders and you just need the young guys to follow. And I think that’s what Chip Kelly’s kind of preaching. We’ve got the experience, we’ve got the talent. You just need to put it all together.”
Kelly brings an entirely different approach that many 49er players have never experienced. He believes in running an up-tempo offense and defense, and his demanding practices — along with advanced sports-science elements — are designed to get the team properly conditioned to handle what is expected of them.
“I think a lot of guys embrace it and the fact is, when you work, you work,” Cromartie said. “When you’re not working, he’s not going to keep you there for just no reason. He’s all about getting your business done and going home. And I think a lot of guys can appreciate that instead of these long-winded meetings and these long-winded days.
“The practices are going to be tough, for sure. I know a lot of people talk about how hard Chip Kelly practices are. They’re for sure not easy, but what you can appreciate is that he’s not going to leave you out there for three hours. You’re going to get your work done and he’s going to let you go home so you can study your playbook or do whatever you need to do. And I think guys have bought into that, because as long as you work hard, he’s going to look after you.”
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