James Sanders talks lockout, staying in shape, and playing for Bill Belichick
|05.15.11 at 10:34 am ET|
Patriots safety James Sanders recently chatted with the blog “Meat Locker Sports,” and touched on a wide variety of topics, including how he’s staying in shape during the lockout, his mindset as a player, how last season was a “weird year” for him and what it takes to play for Bill Belichick and against Tom Brady every day in practice.
On staying in shape during the lockout:
“I come back home to Fresno, California and train with a small group. But my main training partner is one of my best friends, Richard Marshall of the Carolina Panthers. We get together on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, four days a week and we just grind. Our trainer out here Steve Sabonya (Progressive Sports Conditioning) has done a great a job getting us in shape, as well as our sprint coach Josh Norman. We run hills, we have strict weight lifting regiments…the first couple weeks were brutal. But they do a great job.
“We knew it was coming last year during the season. You have to be professional enough, and man enough to know that you don’t have the coaches out there following you around making sure you’re running and working out on your own. You just have to be man enough to keep yourself accountable.”
On his approach to each season:
“My mindset going in to each season is to continue to work hard and to improve areas of my game. I always feel like I’m in the mindset to be the starter, regardless of who the coaches and the organization draft. Me, Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung, the whole secondary, we’re all great friends. But when we go into camp I keep in my mind that I’m trying to leave as the starter.
“Personally for me, I just want to improve my game each year. I know a lot of guys say it, but I just want to learn to become the best player that I can possibly be. I feel like I haven’t reached my full potential. I feel like I’m still learning more and more after each season. I just want to continue to grow in all facets of my game, run defense, pass defense, special teams… everything. I want to continue to strive to be a better player every year and I feel up to this point that I’ve been improving each year and I just aim to continue to do so. As a team, obviously the goal is to win a super bowl. I’ve come close a couple of times, but I haven’t had the opportunity to hold that trophy and get that championship ring and that’s something I still strive to earn.”
On the 2010 season:
“Last year was a weird year. Off the top of my head I can’t remember how many games I started, but it was quite a few. I approach each game, week after week, as if I’m going to be the starter. The worst thing you can do is go in unprepared. If you get thrown in the fire, you need to be ready to go. I’d rather be over prepared then under prepared. You sit there thinking you’re not going to play and of a sudden your number is called and you could potentially cost your team the game. I always want to be known as a reliable player, and for the coaches to have faith that when they put me in the game, I’m going to get the job done.”
On playing for Bill Belichick:
“Coach Belichick loves the game a football, obviously he’s going to go down as one of the greatest coaches of all time. You just learn from him that if you want to be great at something you have to put you’re all into it. You see that he puts his all into each game during the season. He never leaves the facility as he is always preparing and always trying to gain an edge on our opponent. He instills that on the members of the team, and encourages us to prepare extremely hard. We take that home and basically study constantly. We learn our opponents like the back of our hands and I think that’s what gives us a jump on our competition, not only in games, but in critical situations. Coach having that mentality helps fuel us to be better professionals and better players.”
On playing against Tom Brady every day in practice:
“It definitely prepares you. Not taking a shot at the other quarterbacks around the league, and we have some great quarterbacks in our league, but Tom is just different. To be able to compete against him each day, and our offense with our receivers and tight ends and different styles and packages that they put together is a tremendous advantage. The games are never easy, but practicing against them just gets you prepared leading up to that weeks game.”
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