I am pleased to be able to give you another fantastic look into the NFL by Kansas City Chiefs fullback Chris Manderino. Chris has been kind enough to stop by again and give us an insider's view of the NFL off-season. Many, many thanks to Chris for answering our questions and for his hard work on the field. Herm, we've found our fullback!
Run us through a typical day of off-season training with the team.
I usually wake up at 6:30, not by choice, but simply because my biological clock typically wakes me up at that time every morning. I usually check my phone to see what time it is and realize that I still have time to catch some ZZZ’s, so I’ll get up to use the restroom and then go back to bed until 7:25. This may seem like a strange time to wake up, but I have a routine that allows me enough time to do what I need to do in the mornings to get me ready for the work day. After I wake, I have my personal hygiene routine that I go through before leaving the house.
I usually leave the condo around 7:45 and the drive takes me approximately 12 minutes, which puts me in the locker room right around 8:00 a.m. As I approach the locker room, there is the fresh aroma of breakfast in the air so I get myself a plate that usually consists of scrambled eggs with cheese, potatoes, orange juice, and a fruit bowl…occasionally I’ll have a piece of bacon or two or a bagel with cream cheese in addition to the eggs and potatoes.
After taking about 15 minutes or so to enjoy my breakfast I head into the training room to get my ankles taped for practice. Then I go to the auditorium and watch specials team film before the meeting starts at 8:45 sharp. "DON’T BE LATE!" is a huge rule of Coach Edwards, so I always try to be early, plus it gives me a good 15 minutes to watch film from the previous day’s practice or other relative film. We have a 30 min special teams meeting followed by a team meeting lead by Coach Edwards which usually lasts around 5 min. We then break up into offense/defense groups and have a short meeting led by our respective coordinators.
After the offensive/defensive group meetings we break up by position and separate into our designated position rooms. This is where we spend the bulk of our meeting time which is led by Coach Modkins, the running backs coach. We will watch the film from the previous day’s practice then install the plays and schemes for the day and then use the remainder of the time for review and to test our classroom knowledge of the offense. We break from meetings around 10:45 to give us time to prepare for practice which begins at 11:30. I use this time to relax for a bit in my locker, put my jersey on, and gather my helmet, cleats, gloves, and car keys to go down to the practice field. I walk back up the tunnel to my car around 11:00 then drive over to the practice field and facility.
I take the remainder of the time before practice to switch from my running shoes to my cleats then stretch a bit and catch some balls. We go through a team stretch at 11:30 for about 10 min or so then begin practice. Practice begins with a special teams period for 15 minutes, after which we break up into different position groups and go through the various periods of practice. Practice usually ends at 1:15. After practice, I go to the weight room to get a lift. We alternate days between lifting upper body and lower body. We typically lift four days per week. The lift usually lasts about 45 minutes, after which I grab a protein shake, walk back up to my car and drive back up to the stadium. The driving back and forth from practice is a minor inconvenience we must endure due to all the construction going on. Soon enough, we will have a nice, new facility where everything is centrally located.
I walk down the tunnel once again, head in to my locker and sit down. I cut off my tape change out of my practice clothes then hit the shower. I change back into what I wore to the stadium that day then go get lunch...I’m usually pretty hungry at this point. I usually take my time eating and joking around with the guys. As long as we don’t have any post practice meetings, it is time to call it a day around 2:30 p.m. Most days I have had to do something after lunch which takes about another hour but usually done by 3:30 at the latest…all in a day’s work.
Have you heard any observations by the coaching staff or older players that you found especially compelling?
I try to learn something new and get better each and every day. Here in KC, I am actually one of the more experienced guys at my specific position. I feel I learn a lot from film study more so than any one thing somebody has said.
My first couple years in the league I learned a ton! I am always trying to improve my game and sometimes some of the best things I learn are the things and ways not to do something. When I see a guy on film who tries to do things his own way rather than what he is coached to do…it usually results in him getting beat. I learn from this and focus on the fundamentals of my game to improve.
One thing that I have heard Coach Edwards say is that playing professional football is not a right, it is a privilege and that each and every one of us will lose that privilege at some point. This has taught me to take advantage of my opportunities and enjoy every moment of having the privilege to play in the NFL.
Has the team started to gel, at all?
I definitely think the team has started to gel. I know that Coach Edwards is stressing the importance of TEAM and that he is looking for guys who are willing to buy into what they are trying to teach. I feel that we are starting to form that bond as a team and are learning to work together.
As an offense, we are definitely starting to gel. It takes time when everyone is learning a new system, but I think we are putting it all together quite nicely and making some important strides in the off-season.
A couple of weeks ago, we wondered who the leaders were on this Chiefs team. What players do you consider leaders in the locker room?
There are the obvious leaders such as Tony G, Brian Waters, Donny Edwards, and most of the seasoned veterans, but I think what’s going to be important on this team is leadership starting to surface from the younger players. The older guys are great role models on what it takes to be a pro and succeed in this league individually, but if we want to grow and succeed as a team, it’s going to take young guys standing up and taking on leadership roles. I believe that everyone has the ability to lead, it just depends whether you choose to lead in a positive or negative way. We need everyone to become a leader toward accomplishing the goals of the team.
We can't thank Chris enough for stopping by. Make sure you read his blog, Live the Dream!