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In the line of fire


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NFL O-LINEMEN HAVE NEVER HAD IT SO TOUGH, AND EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO 'DON'T KNOW HOW TO BUCKLE A HELMET.' HERE'S WHAT FOUR LINEMEN HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE HARDEST JOB IN FOOTBALL.

 

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/feature/25577288/in-the-line-of-fire

 

Great article, it is long so read if you want to learn something, not reposting it entirely.

 

 

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Steel clanks in one part of the gym, while the punching of bags is heard in another as the big-bodied men go through a variety of drills, their grunting and groaning creating a symphony playing as their own personal soundtracks.
Inside the O-Line Performance Center here, owned and operated by former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley, Tennessee Titans guard Chance Warmack has just finished up a grueling workout. With a handful of several of the league's linemen still working out nearby, under the watchful eye of Bentley, a sort of self-help guru who doesn't miss a thing in drills, Warmack talked about the state of offensive line play in the NFL.
"I call this place the Land of the Persecuted," I told Warmack. "You guys took a beating last year."
"Yep," he said, his shirt drenched in sweat. "We've become the NFL scapegoats."
Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long, also in the Bentley group, offered a better name for league's offensive linemen.
"We're the Mushroom Club," he said. "They throw us in a closet, feed us s--- and expect us to come out a finished product."
That's why they are here -- to get better. Mainly because they don't feel they get enough teaching from their own NFL coaches. The techniques taught by Bentley might be different than what these linemen are taught when they are with their teams, but the 30 guys who spend eight weeks here swear by the techniques. A lack of fundamental teaching is one reason for the poor state of line play, many of them say.
Limits on practice time have forced NFL coaches to spend most of their time installing the offense, rather than focusing on the tricks of the trade. That's led to sloppy play. There are other reasons for the deterioration of line play, such as the spread offense in college, free agency preventing cohesion, and little contact in practice, which limits growth together as a unit. Add it all up, and it's why the big guys up front have become the NFL players everybody loves to hate.
I came here to sit down with some of them in a roundtable setting to discuss line play as a whole, but also to get their feelings on residing and working in the Land of the Persecuted.
Four of the linemen gathered in a conference room, all massive bodies, making the huge table look small, with Bentley sitting off to the side listening with interest. They often come into this same room to discuss line play together and watch tape, a board room for blocking, so to speak. Sometimes they pop in old All-22 tapes of great lines of years past. They recently watched the 1992 Dallas Cowboys, which featured a great line, and they all raved about that unit and what they saw.
Later, we all would watch more Cowboys tape, with that line matched up against Reggie White. But this gathering was about the current state of the league's line play and why it has become an issue.
The four men at the table: Warmack, Long, Chicago Bears tackle Bobby Massie, who signed with the Bears after playing in Arizona the past four years, and Giants center Weston Richburg, who has also started at guard.
So we had was a center, two guards and a tackle, although Long played tackle last year and will move back to his natural guard spot with the signing of Massie. It was a good cross-section of NFL linemen -- and they came loaded with their opinions, unafraid to express them.
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