NFL Training Camp Tour: Russell Wilson patterns himself after all-time ‘tough guys’

AAAA Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson joins Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan

Russell Wilson saw how it was done, how the best of the best became the best of the best.

Sure, they were ultra-talented. But they had something else in common: They also were ultra-available.

‘I never want to not be on the field’

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback has always taken tremendous pride in that quality, which he has tried to emulate throughout his career.

“I think that’s a key, key thing for me,” Wilson told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan at Seahawks training camp in Renton, Wash. “I never want to not be on the field, no matter what. That’s every practice, every walk-through, every game. It’s a must. I just believe that, I’m a firm believer in that.

Admiring those who play every day

“I was able to watch, growing up, great football players, tough guys. Guys like Brett Favre. Guys like Peyton Manning. Guys in baseball. Guys like Derek Jeter. Guys like Cal Ripken. I really admire people that can go out there and play the game every day. And that’s a mental thing more than anything else, too, so I just appreciate those type of players. I’m grateful those type of players I was able to watch.

“For me, too, I think it’s also taking care of your body, but really pushing yourself. I’m a big believer in pushing myself.”

NFL Training Camp Tour: Stafford sees ‘great competition’ at receiver post-Johnson

AAAA Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford sits down with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt

Calvin Johnson’s retirement has left a massive void on the Detroit Lions.

Yet, as they go through training camp in Allen Park, Mich., they hardly look like a team with no other options at wide receiver. Quite the contrary.

‘Those targets going somewhere else’

Quarterback Matthew Stafford likes what he sees in each practice and through the first preseason game from Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, Andre Roberts, Jeremy Kerley, and other receivers on the roster.

“Calvin would get whatever it was — 120, 130 targets a year, at least,” Stafford told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt. “Those targets are going somewhere else now. And those guys are battling for those targets.

‘A bunch of guys that are hungry’

“We’ve got great competition in the receiver room and a bunch of guys that are hungry and are trying to make an impact. And that’s going to make us better.”

NFL Training Camp Tour: Slay: Being ‘a little bit cocky’ led to Lions’ slow start in ’15

AAAA Darius Slay

Darius Slay sits down with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt

The strong finish was all well and good. Winning six of the final eight games of last season no doubt gave the Detroit Lions something on which they could build this year.

But before there was a strong finish, there was a slow start — 0-5 and seven losses in the first eight games. That’s the segment of the season on which cornerback Darius Slay has chosen to focus during the Lions’ training camp in Allen Park, Mich.

‘We got too comfortable’

“We’re just trying to make sure we don’t start off slow,” Slay told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt. “We started off slow last (season). I felt, as a team, we were a little bit cocky about our playoff run. We hadn’t been to the playoffs in so long, so we were excited. We got too comfortable.

“But this year, we’ve got to stay hungry and come out strong, man. Just come out fighting and ready to try to win these games.”

NFL Training Camp Tour: Seahawks’ Bennett ‘so close to being Defensive MVP’

AAAA Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett sits down with Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller

After finishing with a career-high 10 sacks last season, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett decided to take stock of his game.

What he found was that he could do much better. At least five sacks better. On top of that, Bennett, beginning his eighth year in the NFL, is sure he could have the type of season worthy of league Defensive MVP.

Studied game’s greatest pass-rushers

“I think challenging myself is just being even more mentally ahead of the game,” he told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan at the Seahawks’ training camp in Renton, Wash. “The whole offseason, I studied film of the greatest players and my mistakes and what did the guys do this season, from J.J. Watt to Von (Miller) to whoever it is — all my friends who are top players in the league and kind of studied them, studied myself and see what I could do differently. And that’s what I came out and tried to fix, work on some technique things, turn the corner.

‘So close to 15-sack guy’

“Because I’m so close to being a 15-sack guy and having a chance to be Defensive MVP. If I really make five more plays on defense and do a couple of more things, I really can be challenging for that. So I really want to challenge myself to work really hard and get more conditioned, want to hit another level and try to finish more.”

NFL Training Camp Tour: Zimmer ‘might be the only person in America’ expecting great year for Bridgewater

AAAA Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer sits down with Bruce Murray and James Lofton

Mike Zimmer couldn’t be happier to have Teddy Bridgewater as his quarterback.

He knows others would be willing to dispute that, but the Minnesota Vikings’ coach believes he has the right man to capitalize on what opposing defenses are going to regularly do against a team with Adrian Peterson at running back.

‘Not my biggest concern’

“I might be the only person in America, but I believe that Teddy is going to have a great year,” Zimmer told Bruce Murray and James Lofton at the Vikings’ training camp in Mankato, MN. “I believe that. I watch him every day in practice. He is not my biggest concern on this football team by any stretch of the imagination.”

Nor is Zimmer fretting over the fact that defenses are going to be crowding the line of scrimmage in an effort to deal with Peterson’s running.

“I go back and look at the tapes from last year, and we’re running into so many extra guys in the box,” he said. “So the biggest thing is trying to take advantage of that when the opportunity presents itself. The more that we can loosen up the defenses, the better we can run the football.

‘Teddy looks so much different’

“And the thing that’s been happening in the entire preseason — it started really back in OTAs — is Teddy looks so much different. When the opportunity presents itself down the field, he’s taking his shots. And they don’t all have to be completions.

“Like I tell the DBs, if we’re in poor position on a deep ball, there are three things that can happen and two are bad — pass interference or a completion. But he’s throwing the ball great down the field. He had one the other night in the ballgame (against Cincinnati).”

NFL Training Camp Tour: Peterson builds confidence from continuing to ‘outwork youngsters’

AAAA Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson talks with Bruce Murray and James Lofton

Don’t tell Adrian Peterson that great NFL running backs still can’t be great at 31 years old.

He’ll tell you he feels as strong and as explosive as ever. And when the Minnesota Vikings begin the regular season, he fully intends to prove it.

‘Age is just a number’

“Age to me, in my mind, age is just a number,” Peterson told Bruce Murray and James Lofton at Vikings’ training camp in Mankato, MN. “It’s all about your mindset and mentally, how you approach what you’re doing. And fortunately, God has blessed me with tremendous talent and abilities and each year, going into the offseason, I’m able to see where I’m at.

“Because I’m always competing against young guys that come in and train with me. And that’s always a confidence-builder for me when I’m able to continue to outwork these youngsters. I’ll let people sit there and say, ‘Oh, he’s 30, he’s 31’ and, ‘Age, age, age.’ But my mind is set somewhere totally different.”

Peterson insists there has been no change, mentally or physically, between his preparation for this season and how he prepared when he was 22.

‘Not taking extra time to recover’

“To be honest with you, for me, 22 to this past season has really been the same,” he said. “It’s not like I’m taking extra time off to recover. I’m getting up every morning, I’m going in, I’m grinding — three to four hours, depending on what I have going.

“And it’s with the same intensity, or even more, because I’m trying to improve and get better than I was before the previous year. So, for me — I can’t speak for anyone else — but for me, it’s pretty much been the same.”

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