It's not uncommon to read stories ahead of NFL training camps that a player worked with trainers throughout the offseason and are in the "best shape of his life." That's an easy narrative to promote, and many professional athletes do dedicate their time away from the football field to recover and get their bodies prepared for the next season.
However, the 2020 offseason has been unlike any other in the league's long history. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, players have not been able to receive the type of hands-on personal training they typically do, or at least not to the degree they have in the past.
Without teams being able to directly work with players during allotted times in the offseason or receiving progress updates from personal trainers, the burden of conditioning has fallen largely to the players these past four months. Falcons coaches have met with players for virtual coaching sessions throughout quarantine, but the nature of those meetings was largely to go over the mental aspects of the game.
Atlanta coach Dan Quinn elected not to require mandatory team workouts over virtual calls, but he appears impressed with the way his players dedicated themselves to staying in shape while away.
"There are a number of players that are in fantastic shape," Quinn said. "They just devoted this time to training and going, so there wasn't a normal break for summer vacation and the normal rotation for an NFL player and coach. They've been training hard. Most players coming into the training camp, it certainly sounds like they are in excellent shape."
Given travel restrictions in place across the country, Quinn said he believes players used time they may have otherwise taken to go on vacation to stay at home and train. Alex Mack invested in upgrading his home gym once it became clear the pandemic wasn't ending, a decision that many Falcons players also made.
In a recent conversation with Cam Newton, Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz, new Falcons running back Todd Gurley gave credence to Quinn's belief that this has been a training-heavy offseason.
"I'm not even going to lie, I haven't worked out this much in my life," Gurley said. "There literally has been nothing to do but to workout."
If his new teammates took Gurley's approach to the offseason, and Quinn certainly seems to think they did, the Falcons should be in good shape – in the literal sense – for the 2020 season.