It is Saturday morning and Jets running back Mike Goodson is at the team's facility, by himself, in the field house. It is just Goodson and a 100-yard field.
The rest of the team is on a chartered bus to the airport for its flight to Nashville, Tenn. for a Sunday afternoon game against the Titans, a game the Jets will lose. Goodson can't travel or practice with the team due to a four-game suspension handed down from the league for his recent arrest and the subsequent drugs and weapons charges filed against him. He can, however, work out at the facility during his suspension which has led him to the field house the past four weekends.
Goodson is set for the most intense workout of his week and this one is supposed to look and feel like an NFL game. Since he can't practice with the team, he must put his body through a workout that will keep him sharp for when he comes back.
“You want to try to get your body ready for practice and then for a game,” Goodson told Metro. “You want it to be ready because I didn't really have a preseason at all.”
Everything he does is designed to get him as close to ready as possible for game speed and strength — not just lifting weights in the gym but the functional strength training that translates itself to the football field. He will take a sled and push it for 10 to 15 yards, like a simulated run, and run routes like he would out of the backfield. Then he will get in his stance and run back onto the field and push the sled another 10 yards, and then back to running routes again. He does this with no breaks for seven minutes to simulate an actual drive, mimicking the kind of speed and motion he would use on the field.
All by himself, in the Jets field house, with the images of the team's Ring of Honors players like Joe Namath and Curtis Martin hanging over him and the only sound his heavy breathing, his feet churning on the turf and his hands hitting the sled. There is no one there except the suspended running back, and he is accountable only to himself on this day.
Goodson will simulate a number of drives on this Saturday, trying to replicate the amount of carries and running he will have to do in Week 5 when his suspension is over and he can return to the field. During the week, he worked out five days a week, twice-a-day and watched his diet carefully. But it is this weekend session that has him feeling like he can step on the field and be ready for Monday night at the Falcons.
Some things of course he can't replicate, like the beating he will take from NFL linebackers who will look to level him on any given Sunday.
“The most I can do is hit the sleds outside but there's nothing you can really do to have your body feel like that. I was watching 'Sports Science' [on ESPN] the other day and they said that an NFL hit is like a car crash to your body,” Goodson said. “There's nothing really you can do to make your body feel like that. But you try to hit the sleds, do stuff like that. Try to be physical in the weight room as far as explosion stuff but that's about it.”
The end result is a player who is beaming. On Monday, the Jets did a walkthrough session, so Goodson really didn't get the chance to do much on the field. But for a player who missed training camp and preseason, he came into the locker room with a smile that was a mile wide.
His timing couldn't be better for the Jets. Wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill could be out for Week 5 with injuries, taking away the top two receiving targets this season. Then there is running back Chris Ivory, whose hamstring issues shelved him for the Titans game. Plus, rookie quarterback Geno Smith is struggling with turnovers.
All this means that Goodson could carry a big load for the Jets in the coming weeks.
“I feel great. I feel great. It's very rare that in an NFL season that you have the chance to just work out, know what I mean?” Goodson said. “Definitely think whatever they give me, I think I can handle it. I feel ready; I feel good. Can't wait to get out there now.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.