Dan Connor, formerly of my alma mater, Linebacker U. and more recently of the NY Giants, was arrested in Philadelphia on Saturday morning after TSA screeners found a four-inch knife in his carry-on luggage. Like we said in Football Workouts for Linebackers… Part 1, knowin’ what scouts look for in middle linebackers is cool, but knowledge is only the key when it’s applied. So let’s finish-up looking at some more drills that’ll help you develop the skills that scouts look for in middle linebackers.
You may look funny in the gym doing this one, but it works wonders on helping you get the flexibility in your hips that scouts want to see. This video gives you some additional stretches you can do to stretch out your hip flexor to increase your mobility in your hips. The drills in the video below can be done without a band, but having a band will make the drills much more effective. Quickness and agility kinda bleed together, if you will, but these ladder drills will help you with both. Same thing with this one, which is the same as the drill above, except it’s done with one leg, instead of two. Disclaimer #2: Again, I’m not a trainer, I just gathered a bunch of training materials that cover drills and exercises that can help you improve in the specific areas that NFL scouts tend to look for when analyzing middle linebackers. Are there any drills that can help middle linebackers get better at these skills that we didn’t mention? If you want to impress scouts, it only makes sense that you know what they want to see, right? Every combine and tryout you'll ever take part in will include at least "some" of the six major combine drills. From this day forward, you'll know HOW to impress scouts, all you'll need to do now is put in the work. Get a killer defense like Michigan State's >>> Learn Quarters Coverage and Get Better For Next Year!
The following linebacker drill was stolen after visiting Vince Okruch’s Western Illinois 3-3 nickel practices as well as from Jeff Walker’s exhaustive work, “Coaching the 40 Nickel Defense”, which every coach absolutely needs to own. The linebacker drill represents the run fits for your linebacker group, broken into 3 distinct reactions; In, At, and Out (represented here in green, yellow, red).
The AT area will be an immediate responsibility of the bubble (outside) linebacker sandwiched between the guard and inside the tight end. Whether it is ingrained at the lower levels or what, use this momentum to build their skill-set rather than trying to “break them” of bad habits. To better explain this drill, it’s important to first understand what the benefits of it will be. At the most basic level, this drill should be able to teach your linebackers how to read an offensive key post-snap. We set this drill up just with a centered location (ball), a line of scrimmage, an offensive read player 5 yards deep from the ball spot, and linebackers in the called front alignment. For this linebacker drill, once the linebackers acknowledge the key they are given, they just need to move correctly and blow through their fit.
BACK: On command, step forward between the ball spot and the guard, and ? speed run to the LOS.
TO LB: Identifying the back is heading to the IN (the back is not laterally stepping or turning his hips outside), the linebacker should mimic the back’s footwork and step forward in a free run to the A gap.
AWAY LB: If the away linebacker does not see the back’s shoulders heading toward him, he can rule out being threatened immediately. TO LB: Identifying the back has gained outside momentum with the lateral step and the immediate IN area is not threatened, the linebacker should vertically press his primary play side gap for 2 steps. AWAY LB: As the back gains lateral distance from the ball spot, the linebacker would shuffle and press (staying parallel to the LOS) for 3 steps and on the fourth step engage a free run to stack the A gap inside-out, closing any potential cutback of the back. BACK: On command, take an exaggerated step (open the hips to the sideline) outside and ? speed run to the sideline.
TO LB: With the back turning his body away from the IN and AT areas, where the linebacker can see the helmet earholes of the back, he should vertically press his primary gap for 2 steps, then ‘bounce’ to outside the tackle. AWAY LB: With the back presenting his back to this linebacker’s play side, the linebacker should shuffle 3 steps and look to stack the away side A gap, and then run his feet. For linebackers inside the tackle box, their feet should be within their body, slightly wider than shoulder-width and never leave this position until they are in a free run. The quick hitting run game has to end with these two defenders, so they cannot be out of position. To get the most return out of this drill, you should be reinforcing HOW your linebackers should be moving towards their destination. As the linebacker initiates movement to his left, he should be driving off his right foot forcing his lead (left) foot to catch the ground at 6-8 inches from where it started. OUT Action TO: Any outside action to, this defender should be free running up the field, closing the perimeter running lane for the back, keeping his shoulders square to the LOS.
The Back Action AWAY: linebacker should shuffle inside laterally for 3 steps and then gain depth from the LOS. When your players master the basics of back flow and linebacker movement, begin adding other read players like guards, wings, and other backs. I hope this has helped spark an interest for streamlining what you reinforce to your defenders and that fundamentals improved for you next season. You can find more of Joe Daniel’s work at Football-Defense, which is an awesome resource.


I believe that linebacker drills for footwork always need to emphasize the stance, and also the proper first step.
What’s really nice about this bag drill is how easily it can be incorporated into most linebacker drills against the run. Here is some linebacker drills video of a team doing some basic run fits with their linebackers without pads. Executing these half line linebacker drills in practice without pads, especially at a good tempo, is an effective way to break down a specific area of a linebacker’s fundamentals without being distracted by another element (aka the tackle).
Linebacker drills that focus on the shuffle include setting up bags about 2-3 feet apart and having the linebacker work over them from side to side. We run the 4-3 also; the linebacker drills will be great for them during our individual drills. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Coach Urban Meyer has made it clear how much Simon is capable of - and how critical the senior is to the success of the Buckeyes in what will be Simon's last season in Columbus and Meyer's first. View full sizeMarvin Fong, Plain Dealer file photoLinebacker John Simon is expected to play a big role for the Buckeyes this season. COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was at the New York Jets' practice Thursday morning, watching Tim Tebow, his former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at Florida. John Simon has been called a freak a lot, almost since he arrived at Ohio State as a weight-room addict who played immediately on the defensive line as a freshman. By doing that last month, Meyer made it clear how much Simon is capable of -- and how critical the senior is to the success of the Buckeyes in what will be Simon's last season in Columbus and Meyer's first. But what Simon can do like Tebow -- and what Meyer has said he must do -- is set the kind of example that helps turn Ohio State into a Meyer team. When Meyer spoke to Ohio high school football coaches last month and explained his philosophy of elite players -- that a good team has 10 percent elite players, and if you have just 3 or 4 percent elite players, you're in trouble -- it was Simon he used as an example. Simon, who's added a couple of pounds to reach 265 but also believes he is significantly quicker, said Thursday his typical early morning lifting partners have been sophomore linebackers Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant. Said OSU offensive lineman Jack Mewhort, one of Simon's best friends, when asked about the comparison: "I don't know Tim Tebow.
Pressure can come from either side (weak or strong), and the modern 3-4 OLB is asked to execute a number of different responsibilities within the body frame of a classic LB; speed rush, power rush, blitz, set the edge vs run, drop into zone coverage, man up vs a TE…the list goes on and on. One of the hottest commodities in today’s NFL is a player who can consistently rush the passer. Look for 4-3 college defensive ends with not only the physical tools but also the inert instincts to diagnose and keen awareness to respond, to quickly be snatched up in the NFL Draft by clubs utilizing a 3-4 defense. CNN is saying it was a switchblade knife, but then again CNN has a tendency to use the most politically and emotionally charged term to describe any given weapon, accuracy be damned. The Pittsburgh Panthers defeat the New Hampshire Wildcats 38-16 at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania on September 11, 2010. I find this drill to be the single most important technique reinforcement tool to develop consistent linebackers. This typically is the responsibility of the middle or stacked (inside) linebacker of the defense. It is best when it is repped at a high-tempo, with verbal cues provided, but no stopping of the drill. Also, DO NOT use a ball in this drill, it will only slow you down and isn’t what you are reinforcing with this drill. The old school way of doing this was lining your guys in front of other players hoping one of them can provide a decent offensive lineman block (down, pull, base, scoop, etc). The back will be given one of the three responses and on command (cadence) will move towards the appropriate (In, At, or Out) area. It isn’t enough to get the initial footwork correct, there has to be follow-through on the execution.
This drill should be run at a very high tempo and because it’s just being used for run fits, you can have lines of other defenders ready to take their turn at each linebacker spot once a play is run. He will vertically press his gap with 2 shuffles, then race to stack the opposite A gap while keeping his shoulders parallel to the LOS.
The next step should crossover this first step towards the area outside the tackle and ? speed run to the LOS. Once he sees the crossover step of the back (the back’s shoulders are no longer parallel with the LOS) he should free run to just inside the tackle position. This linebacker has closed any cutback and is in position to go “over the top” of the front on a secondary pursuit angle if the back breaks the line of scrimmage (though it is not necessary to rep that in this drill).
With the In-At-Out drill, these inside players should be moving with a shuffle technique; pushing off the away foot and catching with the destination foot. This position looks exactly like any 2-point defender would be in before he began any other essential drill (block destruction, 2 point extension, form tackling, etc) with his hips coiled and relaxed upper body, capable of moving in any direction. The key is for this player to not get in a habit of turning his shoulders away from the LOS immediately but insure the cutback is closed before engaging in secondary pursuit.
I call it the wave because the linebacker coach is moving his hands in all kinds of directions.
He will point to the linebacker’s left, and the linebackers will come down hill to the left, shuffling as they go.
Shuffling, a technique advocated by linebacker guru and current Penn State Defensive Coordinator Ron Vanderlinden, leaves the feet in a good position to take on a block.


Then Meyer returned to Woody Hayes Athletic Center, where just outside his office window, his other Tebow was talking to reporters as several Buckeyes conducted interviews for a final time before the end of classes.
But among the more interesting things Meyer has done since his hiring almost six months ago is to put Simon in context. Unlike Tebow, he'll almost certainly never make a public speech that is commemorated on a campus plaque. Elite players must make sure they're rubbing off on their teammates, spreading their messages like bees taking pollen from flower to flower. But when the OSU coach wants to talk elite in the future, he'll now have a Buckeye he can reference, along with that Florida quarterback.
A common debate topic leading up to the draft seems to be discussing whether or not a player can make a transition from playing primarily defensive end in a 4-3 to an outside linebacker in a 3-4. This linebacker drill can be conducted at varying levels of difficulty and lends itself to training many players in rapid succession. It is important that your second level defenders work with the front to close all the available gaps at the snap of ball. Repeating this drill every day will allow your players to understand just how many steps (and the time window) it takes to respond to the runs you face. When the back provides a read, the linebackers should shuffle and press the area being attacked and race through the LOS. Once linebacker has committed to his gap, he should be running through the gap (tackling the ‘ball carrier’ isn’t necessary for this drill). This rote method will produce a comfort level of familiarity with your players, giving them more confidence in their role on the field and reduce hesitancy and “free lancing”.
Depending on how you teach reads, you can easily have the linebacker follow through the guards to the runningback in this linebacker drill. I also like how the coach starts by giving the players the direction and play the offense will use, and finishes up by mixing it up on them. Teaching the linebacker to react to movement in someway is so critical for training what the eye sees and how the body and footwork of the linebacker respond. Emphasizing this shuffle is pivotal for the success of the linebacker in maintaining his base throughout the play, from pursuing the ball carrier, taking on a block, and making the tackle. If you want to connect with me, you can follow me at my twitter handle, CoachCP or on Google+. Unlike Tebow, he's unlikely to cause sports analysts to scream at one another, debating his worth. We aren’t an exclusive back-flow read team, as linemen keys are essential, but for the sake of indoctrination we develop the linebackers in stages. At the snap, they should be moving forward, towards the ball, and laterally with their feet underneath them. If you’re adding more and more offensive players, you might be better served to wait for “team” periods. This will allow you to watch the footwork on the linebackers and incorporate the bag behind them to prevent false steps backwards. I target the main area of concern in the string of events (was it a bad stance that caused the problem rather than a bad step), because a series of problems will usually start with that first problem. This will also keep his feet high, which is always good practice in order to prevent falling over trash.
The ball carrier lightly jogs, so the linebacker shuffles, keeping in on the back hip of the ball carrier so he doesn’t over pursue.
Unlike Tebow, he's unlikely to have a specific action -- one knee on the ground, hand to his face in prayer -- copied and named after him. So maybe they found the knife when he went through security, but arrested him because it was a switchblade? Indy and Group linebacker drills should be 3-5 step, high repetition exercises to reinforce fundamental technique to get your players to not only do it right, but do it better than anyone else in your conference. Regardless of how you choose to teach it, by keeping the bag small behind the linebacker in this linebacker drill, your inside linebackers can take their drops. Finally for these types of linebacker drills, the coach will point behind him and they will sprint forward to finish the play. I'm talking about the self-discipline, self-respect, work ethic that most of us can only dream of," Meyer said during his presentation.
Linebacker coaches should do this with as many drills as possible to stop the dreaded pushoff step that linebackers don’t even realize they do.
For the left and right motions, you can have the linebackers in this drill open their hips in that direction for a pass drop instead of coming down hill for the run.
The linebacker should keep his shoulders square (like he must do when shuffling), but turn his hips to run to maintain that his relationship on the hip pocket of the ball carrier. Taking video can help too if you can’t use a bag, but I prefer the bag because sometimes the memory of hitting the bag stops them from doing it more than a mental note.
The linebacker should then sprint (simulating a toss sweep), regain his shuffle right before the tackle (avoiding crossing over his feet or else he will lose control and likely be run over) and then he will make the perfect tackle.
I've not been around a guy like that, other than my quarterback -- that left-handed kid at Florida, Tebow.



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