Haynos focused on training for NFL combine

Baltimoresun.com staff

Joey Haynos knows all the questions.

After seven weeks of training, he hopes he'll have answers.

The test for the former Terps tight end is the NFL combine, an event that will go a long way in determining the next phase of Haynos' life.

And that's why he's spending time with Tom Shaw, a former strength and conditioning coach for the New England Patriots.

"Knowing what to expect will be good," Haynos said. "But there will still be a ton of pressure to perform well."

Shaw runs a training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., near Orlando. Currently 32 athletes -- including LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, a likely top-five draft pick -- are training there in preparation for the combine. According to Shaw's Web site, six overall No. 1 picks, 96 first-round picks and the last six Super Bowl MVPs have trained with him.

Haynos' agent Scott Smith of XAM Sports said he's been sending his clients to Shaw for the past five years even though there are several other options available.

"We've always been pleased with the results," Smith said. "He's a guy that basically pioneered the concept of specialized combine training."

At the combine (Feb. 20-26), Haynos will be timed in the 40-yard dash and asked to bench press 225 pounds as many times as possible, among other tests.

Here's a rundown of what a typical day of training is like for Haynos:

7:15 a.m. -- Haynos wakes up in a four-bedroom townhouse at the Regal Palms Resort. The training is grueling, but the accommodations are luxurious. The place is fully furnished, and he has just one roommate, Virginia Tech defensive lineman Carlton Powell, who's also an XAM Sports client. Haynos starts his day with a bowl of Cheerios and some eggs.

9 a.m. -- After about a 20-minute drive, Haynos and Powell arrive at the Disney complex. Training begins on the track. Haynos' goal is to run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.8 seconds. As a point of reference, Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen -- the only tight end taken in the first round last year -- ran a 4.51. Giants tight end Kevin Boss, who was drafted in the fifth round last year and also trained with Shaw, ran a 4.78.

"He's been doing great, working really hard," Shaw said of Haynos. "We're seeing improvement."

Shaw uses different methods to help players get faster. For instance, he straps a mirror to the back of a golf cart and drives in front of athletes so they can improve their technique on the spot and see what they're doing right and wrong.

The players also work on football-specific drills in the morning. Shaw said that's what separates his camp from others. He has NFL players like Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor working with the athletes.

"The combine is pretty much the main focus, but Coach Shaw also knows the importance of staying good at football so we do a lot of throwing and catching," Haynos said.

As the only tight end at the camp, he trains with both the offensive linemen and the receivers.

"He catches the ball well and has a big body so he can block," Shaw said of Haynos. "That's important for coaches who don't want to take guys in and out of games."

11 a.m. - It's on to lifting. Haynos' goal at the combine is to bench press 225 pounds 20 times or more. But that won't be easy for the 6-foot-8, 260-pounder.

"He's got those long arms so he can't bench as much as a guy who has shorter arms," Shaw said.

But Haynos won't use that as an excuse.

"You just do a lot of it to get better so that's what we've been doing," he said. "Some little ways you hold your shoulders and back can help you get that one more rep."

Haynos understands the significance of the drills at the combine, but he also struggles with the fact that so much importance is put on physical tests rather than what he's accomplished on the field during the last four seasons with the Terps.

"If you can play football, you can play football," he said. "It doesn't matter what you do in a dome in late February without pads on. ... People have instincts you can't measure. But because they focus on it [the combine] so much, I'm going to do the best I can. Hopefully it improves my stock."

1 p.m. - Lunchtime. At College Park, that usually meant a trip to Chipotle for a burrito or Ratsie's for an Italian sub, Haynos said. And that was if he wasn't eating at the dining hall. But times have changed. In Florida, Haynos met with a nutritionist as part of the camp, and chefs now bring him pre-made meals. Normally that means salmon and rice or chicken. Nutrition is particularly important at this point in the day because Haynos still has a second workout session ahead and he's striving to hit his ideal weight of 265 pounds.

After grabbing a quick 45-minute nap, he heads back to the training complex for round two.

4 p.m. - It's important to be on time. Shaw gets calls from personnel guys around the league who ask him about specific players.

"Bill Belichick always tells me, 'If they can play, it'll be on the videotape,'" Shaw said. "He wants to know things like: Does he show up on time? Is he the first one to drills? How smart is he? Is he high maintenance?"

The focus at camp shifts directly to combine-specific drills. The three-cone shuttle. The vertical jump. The standing long jump. Shaw's camp has been compared to an SAT prep course. The athletes know exactly what will be asked of them at the combine. So naturally, the more they practice each specific drill, the better they get.

The players go through two training sessions on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday mornings, they train in the pool, which Haynos described as "low impact."

On Saturdays, they work on their bench press for about an hour in the morning before getting some time to recover before training resumes Monday morning.

6 p.m. - Dinner means another pre-made meal unless Haynos and some of the other players decide to treat themselves at a local steakhouse.

Then it's time to relax. Haynos usually unwinds by watching TV or a movie. Forget the football player stereotype. He enjoys American Idol. Carrie Underwood earns high marks from the former Terps tight end.

This is also the time for Haynos to catch up with friends and family. He said he talks to his parents every day. And Smith, his agent, who has four clients at the camp, usually checks in with a phone call.

11 p.m. - After nearly six hours of training, sleep is not a problem.

In eight hours, Haynos will be up to do it again.

All with the hopes of passing the test come February.


Baltimoresun.com will chronicle former Maryland tight end Joey Haynos' quest to make an NFL roster in an occasional series leading up to the draft on April 26-27. If you have questions for Haynos or are interested in a particular aspect of the life of an NFL hopeful, please e-mail sports@baltimoresun.com.

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