NFL

NFL Teams Are Adapting To Unrelenting Heat As Training Camps Ramp Up

Jul 30, 2023, 11:54 AM

Jimmy-Garropolo-Las-Vegas-Raiders-NFL...

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the Las Vegas Raiders throws during the team's training camp at the Las Vegas Raiders Headquarters/Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center on July 27, 2023 in Henderson, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — The sight of wide receivers Keith Kirkwood and Shaq Davis leaving practice early this week because of heat-related symptoms was nothing new for the New Orleans Saints, with the hot and humid Louisiana weather a test for even the best-conditioned athletes.

The unrelenting, record-breaking heat across the nation this year has made the opening of training camps even more challenging than usual, however, not only for the Saints but teams throughout the NFL.

Scientists have already calculated this will be the hottest July on record, with the Southwest and parts of the South especially hit hard. Most of the Midwest and East also have been affected. That means NFL teams have to be even more mindful than usual about keeping players safe while also getting as much work done as possible before the season begins in September.

Safety has been a centerpiece of the preseason since Minnesota offensive tackle Korey Stringer died on Aug. 1, 2001, after slipping and falling the previous day after a Vikings training camp practice. NFL teams at the time didn’t have medical training for exertional heat stroke.

Some teams are taking extra precautions this year, including more water breaks and early practice times.

“I don’t know all the science and all that stuff, but I do my best to understand it,” Saints quarterback Derek Carr said. “I’ve seen growth … from when I first came in the league to what we talk about now. It’s definitely a difference on the things we talk about, the way we practice, how long we do something … how much time you’re actually accumulating outside during the week.”

Carr is in his first season in New Orleans, so he’s acclimating to the wet, muggy conditions. He spent the previous three seasons with the Raiders in Las Vegas, where the air is dry but temperatures are considerably higher.

“It just feels like your skin is going to fall off,” Carr said of playing in Las Vegas. “It feels like it’s boiling.”

RELATED: Top Moments From Opening Week Of NFL Training Camps

For their part, the Raiders have begun practicing at 8:30 a.m. to avoid the hottest parts of the day but still must contend with temperatures in the triple digits by the time they walk off the field.

The Raiders have an indoor facility but usually practice outside because it’s more spacious and the fields are grass rather than turf. Cool boxes are set up just off the 50-yard line near one of the three practice fields that players use, and coach Josh McDaniels said the team met before camp opened to discuss coping with the conditions.

McDaniels said the key was listening to medical professionals.

“They have a very scientific way to measure (weather and safety conditions) that I’m not really qualified to speak intelligently about,” McDaniels said. “But I understand when they tell me that we’ve entered into a zone where it’s dangerous to be out there with helmets, pads, etc., then we’ll do the right thing.”

Two warm weather teams avoid practicing in the heat altogether. The Arizona Cardinals use their retractable-roof stadium and the Dallas Cowboys hold camp in moderate Southern California.

Other teams, particularly those in the hottest parts of the country, have to adapt to the weather.

“The health and safety of the players is the most important thing for our team and our organization,” Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio said. “Whatever we can do to help the players in that respect, that’s the most important thing. It’s going to be hot wherever you go, but you want to be smart.”

Caserio said some players wear hoodies and sweatpants so they can sweat “and let that heat leave your body. If you don’t, you can potentially be putting yourself at risk.”

For a second consecutive camp, coach Ron Rivera scheduled Washington Commanders practices for 9 a.m. as one way to try to beat the heat. A stretch of record temperatures last year contributed to several soft-tissue injuries, so the staff is taking further steps this time around, from more water breaks to a cooling tent that players are sent to if they begin to feel the effects.

“We’re constantly trying to get them to hydrate and get them focusing on hydrating prior to practice and post-practice,” Rivera said.

Other coaches take a different approach, knowing many early season games are played when temperatures are at their highest.

“You look at our first game against Pittsburgh last year here at home,” Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “On offense, there were over 100 snaps and you played an overtime game. … We want our guys to be ready for that, and we feel like we will.”

Few players go as hard as Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, who spent part of the offseason sparring with a UFC fighter. He said part of his preparation for the heat is building up the body before camp begins.

“You can’t just train in the air conditioning and then go out and feel like you’re going to be fine in the heat,” Crosby said. “So we’ve done back and forth. I’ve trained inside, I’ve trained outside this offseason, just doing a bunch of different things to get ready for training camp.”

Much is at stake in camp, so players want to be on the field far more than in the cooling box or on the trainer’s table. They’re fighting for starting jobs and roster spots, and those players know that coaches and general managers are watching to see who best battles through adversity.

“The job’s got to get done,” Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Kendall Lamm said, “with or without the heat.”

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

NFL

NFL-Logo-2022...

JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer

Class-Action Lawsuit Against NFL By ‘Sunday Ticket’ Subscribers Gets Underway

A class-action lawsuit filed by “Sunday Ticket” subscribers claiming the NFL broke antitrust laws got underway in federal court.

9 days ago

Zach-Wilson-Jets-Broncos-NFL...

Chandler Holt

Sean Payton Speaks On Zach Wilson, Trade With New York Jets

Broncos head coach Sean Payton spoke on former BYU QB Zach Wilson and the team's interest in bringing the former No. 2 overall pick to Denver.

9 days ago

Sean Payton Bo Nix Denver Broncos Zach Wilson Locals In The NFL...

Chandler Holt

Sean Payton Previews Broncos QB Battle Between Zach Wilson, Bo Nix, Jarrett Stidham

Broncos head coach Sean Payton gave commendations to Zach Wilson, Bo Nix, and Jarrett Stidham as the three QBs compete for the starting spot.

16 days ago

Harrison-Butker-Kansas-City-Chiefs-NFL...

The Associated Press

Chiefs’ Butker Has No Regrets About Expressing Beliefs During Commencement Speech

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has no regrets about expressing his beliefs in a recent commencement speech.

20 days ago

Patrick Mahomes - Kansas City Chiefs - Las Vegas Raiders...

MARK ANDERSON AP Sports Writer and Chandler Holt

Raiders Give Maxx Crosby A $7.2 million Raise Over Next 2 Seasons, AP Source Says

The Las Vegas Raiders are rewarding star pass rusher Maxx Crosby with a $6 million raise this season and another $1.2 million next year.

22 days ago

Roger Goodell NFL Commisioner Schedule Every Day Of Week...

TERESA M. WALKER AP Pro Football Writer

NFL Closer To Playing On Every Day Of Week As League’s Reach Keeps Growing

The NFL hasn't scheduled a game for every day of the week. Yet. It's all part of the NFL's plan to keep growing the game and the league.

22 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!

Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption...

Hans & Scotty’s Day Of Adoption

Join the KSL Sports Zone for Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption, in partnership with the Humane Society of Utah, on June 25th, 2024!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

NFL Teams Are Adapting To Unrelenting Heat As Training Camps Ramp Up