Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce is a third-year veteran who will play the 2019 season under a second-round restricted free agent tender, which he has already signed. Pierce chose not to participate in the Ravens’ OTAs; then, when he showed up to minicamp, the team found his conditioning lacking and held him out of practice.
Recently, the defensive lineman took responsibility for his conditioning level that prevented him from practicing, while also offering an explanation as to what went wrong. He knows that this is a critical season for him as he is set to hit unrestricted free agency in 2020—and for some reason, other teams love to play Baltimore’s players.
“Throughout the offseason, I tend to lift more than run”, he recently said during a radio interview. “Being a nose guard, I want to be strong or whatnot. I, honestly, just mismanaged my running a little bit”.
Interestingly enough, former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Steve McLendon had the opposite problem in 2013, during his first season as a full-time starter. He said the following offseason that at one point he was going for runs three times a day, and lost over 20 pounds in the process, losing some strength and durability that led to issues during the season.
Even though the days of the traditional 3-4 nose tackle have gone the way of the dinosaurs and pay phones, you still need a big man every once in a while, so there is certainly some credence to what Pierce said, in theory. You have to have some athleticism in this era, even as a nose tackle, but not at the expense of your fundamental quality—your immovability.
“At the end of the day, you expect a team leader to come back in better shape than I did”, the third-year Ravens defensive tackle told his radio show hosts. “That’s a mistake on my behalf I have to correct. I don’t want to get into much more than that”.
He also defending Head Coach John Harbaugh’s decision to take him off the field. “Out of respect for Coach Harbaugh, he’s been nothing but a fair guy, he just wanted me to get in with the strength and conditioning staff and do more running before camp comes”, he said.
Workout guidelines can get very specific for certain players depending on their history and what the team is looking for them. It involves a number of discussions between the player and the coaching staff as well as the strength and conditioning team to determine what they want the player to be able to do and how best he can achieve that, by which the guidelines are set.