Just because NFL teams are currently holding virtual workouts and training sessions amid the coronavirus pandemic doesn't mean that the requirements will be any less vigorous and intense. The Baltimore Ravens are surely aware of that now as the roster battles with what has become a notoriously challenging conditioning test.
As ESPN's Jamison Hensley details, a virtual experience is not stopping John Harbaugh and company from putting his players through a challenging task to make sure they are ready for the 2020 NFL season. Here is how Hensley describes what the conditioning consists of:
"Players must run a total of 900 yards in six legs. Each set consists of 25 yards out and back three times. They must finish that heat of 150 yards under a designated time -- 32 seconds for the offensive and defensive linemen, 29 seconds for the tight ends and linebackers and 27 seconds for the wide receivers, running backs and defensive backs. If you go over that time in any of the six legs, you flunk the test and have to take it over."
Just reading the requirements is tiring. From players who have taken the test in the past, the actual physical part has lived up to the hype. Former Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington told Hensley that it felt as if his legs were "running in mud." Washington admitted that he didn't think too much of the test going in, but was immediately shocked by just how challenging it is.
He's not alone, as plenty of players have shared in the exhaustion. Hensley noted that Earl Thomas, who took it for the first time in 2019, felt as if he was going to throw up. As fast as Lamar Jackson is, the test was just as challenging.
For those who don't pass, it just means continuing to take it over until success is achieved because until you do so, you don't take snaps on the field. Orlando Brown Jr., Mike Wallace and Haloti Ngata are among the group that has failed over the years. Jacoby Jones had to take it multiple times in 2013 and compared it to taking placement tests for college.
"I took it just about how like I took the ACT,” Jones said. "Eventually I passed.”
Whether they pass on the first try or not, there's one thing every Ravens player can agree on: it's extremely challenging. Former Baltimore running back Justin Forsett could really only describe it in one way.
"It is pure death," Forsett said. "It is the hardest conditioning test I had throughout my time in the NFL."
The test has become a staple in Baltimore during Harbaugh's tenor, but even the head coach himself doesn't really know how it came to be. It wasn't passed down from anyone, and no evil genius conspired to make it as challenging as it was.
Realistically, Harbaugh was following suit with other conditioning tests and added what he felt was necessary to have his players ready for the grind of an NFL season.
"There’s a baseline element to it of conditioning, a strength element to it,” Harbaugh said. "There’s also a coverage during a series when you have to go six or seven seconds hard. You get a little time off, and you’re right back at it going hard again in a 100 percent, explosive kind of a way.”
100 percent is what Harbaugh is looking for out of his players all season long. In order to get there, they'll have to prove they can handle that from day one.
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