Holmes defends work ethic
By John Harris
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Holmes sees Sweed. Competition is good.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Santonio Holmes averaged more yards per catch last season than Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Reggie Wayne, Torry Holt and Chad Johnson.
He led the Steelers in receiving yards, yards per catch and touchdowns and recorded the team's only three 100-yard receiving games.
Holmes did a lot of good things in his second NFL season, but apparently not enough to suit him.
Attending the Tom Shaw Performance Enhancement boot camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports, Holmes said he has never trained harder for a season. Holmes attempted to set the record straight regarding his comments last month about skipping some voluntary workouts.
Players report July 27 to training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Understanding that he might not have adequately explained his reasoning behind missing organized team activities attended by the majority of Steelers players in April, May and June, Holmes said he started training for the 2008 season in February.
"People gotta realize that it's voluntary workouts. There's nothing mandatory about being at OTAs," Holmes said. "It is our duty as an NFL player, as a professional to say, 'OK, I want to be at all the OTAs.' But family situations come up, personal things come up. And for people to say we don't show up, or a lot of guys only come to certain OTAs when they feel like it, it's all voluntary.
"I didn't feel like I needed to show up to every OTA, so I didn't show up to every OTA. At the same time, I was respectful with it. I called coach (Mike Tomlin), I texted him, I let him know. I called my quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger). I called Hines (Ward). I called Nate (Washington). I told those guys, 'I won't be in this week. This is what's happening with me and the family.'
"If coach wants me there at every OTA, I'll try to make every OTA," Holmes said. "But when it comes down to personal and work, sometimes you have to take a day off."
Holmes said that following a few weeks of working out on his own when the season ended, he headed to Shaw's speed and conditioning camp.
"I've been going at least four days a week," Holmes said. "Now that it's the last month going into camp, I go five days a week."
Holmes has been training at Disney's Wide World of Sports with some of his Steelers teammates and other NFL players.
"You never ever realize and appreciate how hard you work unless you're working with somebody else," he said. "You compete with somebody, you push yourself that much harder. Every play in football you've got to compete. There's no plays to be taken off. So why would you want to be that guy to go work by yourself?
"That's taking time off. That's taking reps off. That's taking extra motivation off. Self-motivation is the best motivation, but if you don't have a little bit of help on the side, you'll never push all the way through."
Holmes said working out in Florida when he's not practicing with the Steelers might help change the perception that he doesn't like working hard.
"It's important that when guys see what we're doing down here, they're going to see this is what (we've) been doing when we weren't at OTAs," Holmes said. "This is going to prove that (we're) in top shape."
Holmes' desire is to make his first Pro Bowl. He caught 52 passes for 945 yards and eight touchdowns in 2007. Slightly built but wiry and strong, Holmes wants to report to camp at 197 or 198 pounds, a couple of pounds heavier than last season. He's added muscle and is thicker through his neck and shoulders.
Holmes also seeks to become a more precise route runner, along with doing a better job of attacking the football when it's in the air. To that end, he recently started wearing weighted gloves (2-3 pounds each) to strengthen his hands.
"When the defensive back attacks the ball and (tries) to break it out of your hands, that's when those weights come in," Holmes said. "Every time I throw my hands up, the weights bring my hands down and it makes me grip the ball a lot tougher, tuck it in a lot faster.
"I'll probably work out with the gloves two times a week, and even during training camp this year I'll try them on."