Blog Entry

Report: Nutcracker ended Heitmann's 2010 season

Posted on: June 30, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 6:04 pm
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Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Call it the Nutcracker or call it Oklahoma, but the reality of the preseason drill that showcases a defensive player going head to head with an offensive player in an effort to move the other backward is that it’s a thrilling -- yet dangerous -- proposition.

The highlight of the 2009 Bengals preseason camp for me occurred when WR Maurice Purify dominated S Roy Williams, known as one of the hardest hitters in the league, and knocked him backward in an embarrassing display for Williams. To watch it live and up close was awesome -- the speed, the power, the car crash intensity.

But it can be terrifying, especially when we hear the news that 49ers C Eric Heitmann’s neck injury that kept him out of last season occurred during a Nutcracker drill in San Francisco’s training camp.

That’s what 49ers T Joe Staley told SFGate.com (via CSN Bay Area), and it’s the disturbing result of a drill that perhaps should be taken out of practice altogether (like not giving water breaks on excruciatingly hot days).

CSN Bay Area reached former coach Mike Singletary by phone Thursday, and he said, “I have no response to that. I don't really know what Eric's prior situation was, so I'm not going to respond to that.”

According to CSN, a number of players were injured during the drill in Singletary’s first full season as head coach, and afterward team trainer Jeff Ferguson expressed concern to Singletary about the practice.

"When I sat down and explained to him why we did the Nutcracker, then he saw it as a very positive thing," Singletary said in the spring of 2010.

Hmm, that’s an interesting approach.

But Singletary also apparently tweaked the drill before last training camp to make it safer.

"I really had the coaches get together and look at the Nutcracker," he said. "Instead of just one guy getting on one side and the other guy getting on the other side and just knocking the crap out of each other, we're trying to get more out of it."

Unfortunately for Heitmann, it sounds like the tweaking didn’t go far enough.



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Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 5:45 am
 

Report: Nutcracker ended Heitmann's 2010 season

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
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Since: Jun 30, 2011
Posted on: June 30, 2011 8:52 pm
 

Report: Nutcracker ended Heitmann's 2010 season

The video shown is the essence of what happens at the line of scrimmage.  Both offensive and defensive linemen benefit from the repetition and the game-like feel of a one-on-one battle at the line of scrimmage.  I can't think of a better drill that does the same thing and allows instant feedback from coaches.  It is no more dangerous than an actual scrimmage or game, and it also adds a pressure element to the players in that all eyes are on them.  The injuries are unfortunate but part of the game, which also requires practice.  If you want players to excel in games, keep the drill!


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