“Let’s get it,” Adrian Peterson tweeted this week, along with the above action photo.
Nice image of a guy refusing to relax despite a 2,000-yard season. For Redskins fans, though, the highlight of the picture was located one treadmill over. That’s franchise left tackle Trent Williams in the neon green sneaks, working out with the all-world running back. A lineman working out with a running back?
“Depending on what we’re doing, he definitely gets in there with AD, and they mix it up pretty good, to be honest with you,” their Houston-based trainer James Cooper told me this week. “Unlike some guys that keep playing, [Williams] actually wants to get faster and he wants to get stronger every year. He’s jumping. He’s not jumping the same as AD, but they’re going neck and neck on 42-inches Plyo Boxes — Adrian actually has the 46-inch boxes too.
“He’s exploding pretty high,” Cooper said of the lineman. “He’s competing. It’s fun to watch him go with the little guys. I’ve got a lot of linemen, and they don’t want to run 200s and 300-meter sprints. And Trent gets out there and he runs the 300-meter sprints, he runs the 200s, the 150s. And I push him at a pretty fast pace. He’s a pretty fast guy for his size already, pretty nimble, but it’s because he really works on it. Like I tell him, just because you’re big doesn’t mean you have to play slow. You should be able to play as quick as the lightest guy — that should be the goal.”
Cooper, a 38-year old with backgrounds in both the martial arts and track-and-field worlds, is perhaps most famous for his association with Peterson, but he’s been working with NFL guys for 20 years. He got his start under famed Houston-based trainer Tom Williams — whose clients included Eric Dickerson and Darrell Green — and has always relied on references from players to build his roster.
Cooper started working with Peterson during the 2010 offseason, and the running back brought along Williams — a fellow Oklahoma product — the following offseason. And when Williams was suspended for the final four games of that season, he almost immediately started working out with Cooper again.
“My thing was, listen, you’re suspended, but you need to be active, and the biggest focus is you need to start right now preparing for next year,” Cooper told me. “He kind of put his head down, and I got to kind of yell at him a little bit about it. I said, ‘Listen, if you want to be a Pro Bowler, this is something you have to embrace, on the field, off the field.’ He said Okay, I’ll come to you right now, and he started working out literally right after the suspension. Our entire goal was to get to the Pro Bowl. It’s not about proving people wrong — it’s about doing the right thing as a man and a professional. And it was neat to see it all work out for him.”
Williams returned to Cooper this offseason, showing up in the first week of February. He’s currently working out six days a week — two days in the pool, two days running and doing other cardio, and two days of “combative fitness” training like boxing and Muay Thai kickboxing, along with four days a week of weightlifting. Their current schedule involves two to three hours of workouts and treatment a day, but around OTAs the workouts ramp up to four-and-a-half hours, with an additional hour a day in June.
Williams recruited teammates Maurice Hurt and Roddrick Muckelroy this offseason, and has also talked about bringing Alfred Morris and Fred Davis to Cooper’s group. Peterson and Williams cross paths in the gym, but are only actually working out together two or three times a week. Still, it probably doesn’t hurt to be in a training program with one of the NFL’s premier players.
“It’s just good motivation,” Cooper said. “As I told him when I first met him, some people maybe in college and whatnot had said he’s kind of lazy, he’s not a big-time weight room guy. But a lot of that, as a professional, you have to learn it. And he’s actually embraced it big-time from when I first met him. Every year it’s been a lot easier and more of a joy to work with him. He starts earlier and earlier….Trent’s real big on trying to build his team and be a leader. Obviously the quarterback is usually the main leader, but It helps when all the parts are moving at the same pace and moving for the same goal.”