NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 100 yards and 60 minutes on the clock are standard issue for every NFL game. What makes each unique is which team performs better in inches and seconds.
Allowing points late in a half can be detrimental; scoring points late in a half can be decisive.
With that in mind, Titans strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson and assistant strength coach Jason Novak have added fast-paced workouts that are designed to push Titans to perform through fatigue.
The entire team participated in one of those workouts on June 21 when they concluded their organized team activities. The workout incorporated multiple stations using five different sizes of kettlebells, stations with weight bars and stations with undulation ropes. It also utilized a timer to keep players moving through exercises and prevent them from taking too long during recovery breaks.
Watterson said the fast-paced workouts are designed to expand workload and tolerance.
Linebacker Gerald McRath compared the workout to a two-minute drive in a game because it demands performance in a short period of time and because teammates are counting on each other to do a good job in the workout.
"Each play matters and you've got to give it your best effort for that amount of time allotted," McRath said. "Then you get a 15 second break and you've got to come back and do it again. It's one of those things where you've got everybody else doing it. You don't want to be that guy that's not pulling your weight because you can see everybody in a straight line.
"You continue to lift and it's just that teamwork, you just do it," McRath continued. "That guy beside you is depending on you, and at the same time, you know at the end that you're going to benefit and get something out of it, so it's one of those workouts that it's more than a workout, it's almost like you're playing a game."
There were 77 stations total: 11 rows spread every 5 yards with seven stations each. Each station involved multiple exercises.
The area took up about a quarter of the indoor practice field. The arrangement allows players to look in front, to each side or diagonally for motivation or to boost others.
Quarterbacks, special teamers and players who are rehabbing injuries did a separate fast-paced workout that included kettlebells, medicine balls and running drills.
Running back Javon Ringer said he had not done a workout designed like that until this offseason and said it's "definitely different" from most trips to the weight room.
"It's more rapid-fire stuff because you're on a timer," Ringer said. "You can't just do a set and take a break and wait until you fully recover and then go again. You're at a quicker pace."
Ringer said he's already noticed beneficial aspects of adding the fast-paced workout to the traditional weightlifting sessions.
"One is being able to push through things, especially with a lot of adversity you go through in football," Ringer said. "It helps a lot of quick-twitch muscles. We're doing it as a team, so you've kind of got to help push each other.
"Whenever you are feeling tired," he continued, "you can look to someone else that will kind of keep you going and with Coach Watterson yelling out like (someone better do more) or we're going to have to do more stuff, whoever that first guy is to show weakness, and you never want to be that weak link, so you want to make sure you are picking up your slack so that the team won't have to suffer for it."
Linebacker Will Witherspoon is preparing for his 11th season in the NFL and third with the Titans. He said he's worked with kettlebells about four or five years and said the fast-paced workouts provide a gut-check moment.
"As you're working, it always comes up and you say, 'I've got to get another (rep). I've got to get another,' " Witherspoon said. "When you get to that point, the next time it's, 'OK, I've got 10 more, I've got three more.' That's what you want to feel like. That's what that workout was about — just to be wearing you out and wearing you down."
Offenses don't wait for defenses to recover at any point of a game, but that is even more the case during hurry-up, no-huddle possessions that are common at the end of each half.
McRath said the fast-paced workouts are another way to prepare for such game-like situations that are also simulated on the practice field.
"Doing a workout like that is more different than just lifting weights because anybody can pick up a weight, lift it, sit down for two or three minutes, and then go back and do it again," McRath said. "You're constantly moving; it's almost like a game. In a game, you never know how many plays you're going to be on a drive. You've got to constantly give 100 percent on each and every play for how many seconds a play lasts. You've got to be able to recover quickly and do it again."