It’s a long and tough road to get to the NFL for most players, but it might be an even more difficult task to get yourself mentally and physically “Ready To Play” in the NFL week in and week out. As we work our way towards the start of the NFL season, we’re speaking with a different NFL player each week and getting a first-hand account from them on how they get themselves ready for all of the rigors that come with competing at the NFL level. Here’s New York Giants defensive lineman Jay Bromley, discussing how he gets ready to play on Sundays.
In the offseason, I like to train down in Louisiana in February for a month with coach Pete Jenkins. He coached at LSU, at USC and coached a lot of great defensive linemen in his time, so he’s really well known. Coach Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) had him up here for training camp one time and that’s when I got to know him and went down to train with him in Louisiana.
I traveled to Louisiana with Johnathan Hankins and we trained together. There were also a bunch of potential first-round and second-round draft picks who were down there training as well from Alabama and Louisiana Tech, so there was a pretty full roster of kids.
Typically, down there I’m working on my hands and footwork, pad level, things like that; things that really come down to repetition and making sure that you’re doing these things consistently and they’re working for you that way. I also try to work on anything that has to do with balancing out the body. I’ve realized that sometimes we have body parts where one is stronger than the other, like hamstrings or legs.
This offseason my biggest goal was to get my lower body strength better with single-leg squats and focusing on my core. That and just trying to make sure each body part is strong, so when you’re taking on blocks and tackling ball-carriers you don’t have anything off-balance about your body.
After training in Louisiana, leading up to the season I’m usually training and working out at least three or four times a week. Then I’m getting on the field to work with some bags, boots and cones and work on my technique with whoever is around at the time.
This season, though, I actually had a setback since I had surgery on my ankle, so I wasn’t able to train the last month or so prior to camp and early on in camp. Because of that, I’m just now in my second week of on-the-field activities and catching up.
I’ve never had to come back from a really big injury before. The only thing I can think of that was somewhat similar to something like this was when I was in college and I missed a week, week and a half when I sprained my ankle. For this, though, I actually had to have surgery and I was out for over a month, so I’ve never had to actually go through something like this. It gets frustrating at times but you just have to fight through it, stay positive and keep going.
Multiple players on the team have had similar surgeries to what I’ve had and they all had different reactions to it or how it felt when they came back, but they all came back pretty quickly and pretty swiftly. Just talking to them about it – like Hankins had the surgery on his ankle and Louis Nix had the surgery on his ankle – the same thing.
Mostly it’s coming to an understanding that it might take some time and it might be sore and you just have to continue to strengthen it. But overall I feel pretty good. It’s just understanding that right now I’m behind the eight ball and understanding that there’s a gap I need to close between myself and the other players that I need to grind day in and day out.
So far this year I’m learning a lot from the new guys on our line like ‘Snacks’ (Damon Harrison) and Olivier Vernon. They both have so much talent and so much experience, so just paying attention to how they work, how they study film and how they study the game, those are really the biggest things you can take away from guys like that. They do a great job of analyzing the game and they understand the leverage and stuff like that. I think it shows on the practice field and they’re just good guys to be around.
They really get the little nuances of the game, too. Snacks is always just watching the eyes of the offensive linemen and looking for pre-snap reads. That’s something I might not have noted before that can help out a lot. I think those are really, really important tools for defensive linemen and I’m still continuing to learn and develop and expand in those areas.
But having those guys around hasn’t really changed the way I go about my business. I come into work the same way. I’m a worker and I come in trying to get an inch better every day and it’ll add up. I’ve seen those guys’ additions make our defense’s job a lot easier helping everyone stay in shape, so if anything it’s just a plus to have them around.
I feel like the surgery and the actual injury have healed well and it doesn’t bother me anymore, but I’m definitely not where I need to be as far as my playing, technique and overall ability on the field goes right now.
Compared to my rookie year, I understand what I need to do and what I feel like I need to do to get better. I know who I need to see, where to go to train and where to go to improve my overall technique to get back to where I need to be to play at a high level.