Friday, April 17, 2009

Cowboys working hard, even in injury

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming director of strength and conditioning coach Trent Greener works with noseguard Fred Givens on Thursday.

By Richard Anderson

Wyoming director of strength and conditioning coach Trent Greener asked senior noseguard Fred Givens if he was his or if he wanted to stay with the rest of his defensive line teammates Thursday in the Indoor Practice facility.

Greener knew the answer, as Givens, who is nursing a shoulder injury and wearing the red pull-over jersey, jogged over to the south end of the IPF and began doing lunges under Greener’s tutelage.

Givens is among the walking wounded for the Cowboys this spring who began working with Greener on Thursday in an attempt to stay sharp and in shape, rather than to just run or watch from the sidelines.

“I can’t do upper body, like some guys, I just do lower body,” Givens said after practice. “He’s (Greener) mixing it up … whoever can do upper body, does upper body stuff. We did that pretty much all practice and broke a good sweat. I feel like I just practiced a little bit.”

That’s the whole idea, Greener said, as the UW coaches wanted the injured players to not get complacent in these final spring practices.

“We’re just trying to keep them involved,” said Greener. “When you are not practicing, you’re not going game speed. Anything that we can do to continue to develop them physically and keep their conditioning level up and their work capacity up, we have to be creative with what we do. When they are not practicing, they are falling behind. Regardless of all of the things that we can do, they have to be involved in practice. We’re just trying to give them the opportunity and get them as close to practice conditions that they can.”

Thursday was basically the first time that Greener has worked with some of the injured players in practice. He said they’ll likely continue to do that again for the rest of spring drills because of the time remaining.

“It is also part of the reconditioning plan, working with sports medicine, to get them back in,” he said. “We can’t just turn them loose or they will go back out and maybe there is a chance of dinging something again. We have to get them back in shape before we can feather them back in practice. That’s part of the plan.”

Greener said that head coach Dave Christensen wanted the injured players who could participate, to get in the swing of things, rather than just run the sidelines.

“Where we are with practice now, Coach felt like we could break off and do some extra things with them and work a little more on the physical conditioning,” Greener said. “They’ve been watching the different segments of practice and different periods. Coach thought (Thursday) would be a good day to get them involved in a little more physical work.”

For Givens, it’s his shoulder that he is rehabilitating. For others, it could be an ankle or a knee. What Greener works on with the player depends on the injury.

“We just work around their limitations,” he said. “We have to be creative and try to get as much work as we can in these practice sessions. There are times when they have to break out and they have to go watch a period and see the mental aspect of the game.”

The goal is to get the player back to full-speed contact. Greener said they have to be physically as close to game speed as possible.

“Unless you are playing the game, you’re not going to be,” he said. “We’re trying to do anything they can to get their level up.”

On Thursday, 11 Cowboys were wearing red jerseys, although not all 11 were working with Greener. The UW coaches would prefer to have as few as possible wearing the red. Greener said it is just a matter of time when many of the injuries lessen because the players are in better shape.

“Coach talks about limiting the number of red jerseys. You’re going to have that for time to time because it is football; there is nothing else like it,” Greener said. “We want to get a few guys a possible, but I think we’re on the brink of getting a lot of them back. They’re getting ready to get back into the fold.”

For Givens, who sprained his AC joint early in practice, as well as a slightly tearing is labrum, is getting stronger each day. Thursday was a good start for him to get back on the field for contact.

“It feels pretty good,” Givens said of his shoulder. “I don’t have much strength in it, but it is coming back up. I’m just trying to get back onto the field. I think the sprain is going away and now I just working on getting my strength back.”

Greener, a former Cowboy football player himself, returned to the program to work under Christensen. He likes what they are doing and the direction they are heading.
“When you at some of the guys who have been injured, we don’t have some guys at some positions, so they have been going extremely hard,” he said. “They’re working fast and they had a great practice today. That means they are understanding it mentally and they are getting through mental mistakes because they are getting in better full-speed condition. They’ve worked hard all winter since we started our winning edge program.”

With that said, there should be fewer red jerseys to work with by fall drills, which is just fine with Greener.

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