Chris Ivory may be the hardest, most violent running back in the league this side of Marshawn Lynch, which can make training camp a challenge for him. Training camp is glorified touch football under the new CBA, making Ivory's unique running style something that can't be rolled out in practice.
The highlights from his two years with the Jets are replete with him knocking down defenders, bowling over their bodies and breaking their arm tackles.
When Ivory back gets the ball in the backfield, the head goes down and he begins running with a mission. He is rarely taken down by one tackler, his legs churning and his upper body moving in a way that makes gang tackling the only way to take him down. His running style is fierce, it is violent.
And it is not conducive for training camp.
“Right now, it is more like thud,” Ivory said.
“It is more of when you get into contact, you slow it down when you feel that thud instead of trying to run through a guy. So it's more about taking care of one another until you play an opponent but you're still gonna get in the work,” Ivory told Metro.
“I know how to practice. I know in a game when we play other people, other teams, there won't be hesitation there. I won't be sparing bodies for our team. That's when you put everything in.”
In practice of course, there's no tackling or hitting, just wrapping up teammates. While there is the occasional hit and someone gets taken down, hitting is frowned upon and likely to draw the ire of the coaching staff.
And that is the conundrum for Ivory. He's such a hard runner that practice doesn't really simulate how he plays. It's practice – yes we're talking about practice – and the idea is to go through the motions. As such, he doesn't get a chance to really unleash how he plays and moves and hits.
He runs a bit more upright in training camp than in a game where he tends to scoot lower to the ground, making it all the more difficult to take him down.
“In a practice setting, if it is a clear lane, I can explode through. When I initiate contact, it isn't full force if that makes sense,” Ivory said.
“It's about knowing how to practice and take care of each other. Everyone out here is physical but I don't think you want to risk hurting a teammate by doing something or practicing a certain way that might cause an injury or something like that. So you need to adjust. It isn't game-speed out there. You don't want to hurt anyone.”
Which leads to Thursday night at the Detroit Lions, the preseason opener for both teams. It will be a welcome opportunity for Ivory to go out there and run the way he was meant to run, with head down, legs churning and knocking over would-be tacklers.
In other words, not the way he practices.
“I'm excited. I've been excited for this first game to start rolling for awhile,” Ivory said.