Frank Kush is indeed tough. At least that's the impression he left today after putting the Baltimore Colts through their first training camp workout.
More than 500 people came to Goucher College, in 96-degree heat, to see first-year Coach Kush get an early start on improving a team that last year was 2-14, tied with the Patriots for the worst record in the National Football League.
For 2 hours 13 minutes, Kush worked 72 rookies, free agents and early arriving veterans to a frazzle. He conducted a 25-minute, 11-on-11, full-contact drill that left spectators cheering. The camp hopefuls concluded the session with a variety of sprint drills. All this came after an early-morning battery of individual tests.
When it was over, and the players could barely make it to the showers, Kush said everything will get tougher.
When a reporter joked that Earl Weaver never worked the Orioles so hard, Kush replied: "I know. But the Orioles are winning. Anyway, it wasn't that hard. It was a typical first practice. You'll see a gradual increase of intensity and contact."
When someone asked about the intensity of the "live" (11-on-11) drill, Kush said: "That was just a part of practice. You haven't seen live yet. That wasn't live. I hope when we do go live they'll be kicking . . . each other."
Veteran linebacker Barry Krauss said he thinks Kush's conditioning/fundamentals approach to training camp is what the Colts need.
"We've never had this kind of hitting on the first day," Krauss said afterward. "But if this is what it takes, I'll do anything he wants. We've lost for the last three years and I'm tired of it. People here say the Colts stink and it makes me mad.
"The attitude the last few seasons has been terrible here," said Krauss, who is playing under his third head coach in four years. "This first session was tough and we're all dragging our legs. I didn't think I'd be able to make the mile and a half run after lifting weights. But I did, and with a faster time than any of the three previous minicamps. So if this is what it takes--this conditioning and hitting--then let's do it."
Krauss has been helped by Kush's emphasis on conditioning. In the last three months, he has increased his vertical leap four inches, and cut his time in the 40-yard dash from 4.95 seconds to 4.7 (timed Saturday).
"We didn't do that much work under (former coach) Mike McCormack," Krauss said. "We'd get on the field and get off, just do what we had to do. It's not like that now. It's a face lift. They even cheered today."
The rookies and free agents here probably have a good chance of making the team, especially because of the unhappiness of several veterans. One is wide receiver Roger Carr, who was quoted in Cotton Valley, La., as saying he would report Tuesday (the deadline is Friday) but, "I'm going to get out of Baltimore sooner or later . . . I don't care to stay because his system is too much college rah-rah stuff that the veterans don't care about."
Said Krauss: "These rookies and free agents have a great chance to play here. Kush wants to find out who wants to get into condition, who wants to hit and who wants to play."