A little background here. First, it's really hard to pick up which linemen (offense or defense) are doing well at these training camp practices. They're not going all out, so they're usually just trying to hold their ground instead of trying to kill the guy on the opposite side of the ball. You'll notice that, besides sheer size, my notes from training camp included nothing about lineman play.
With that being said, I couldn't have came away from camp more impressed by Luis Castillo. He's as big as just about anyone on the team, but very athletic. You can tell by seeing him walk around that his days of playing soccer have made him very agile and light on his feet. You can tell from the way he smashes into the "dummy" (I don't know what else to call it, the blue things with padding that all of the D-linemen hit in practice) that, when healthy, his strength is awesome.
As always with Luis, it comes down to health. If he can stay healthy, he's one of the best 3-4 DEs in the league. A prototype 3-4 DE, if you will. However, healthy has always been a major factor in his career. And that topic is what my questions were centered around.
How do you intend on trying to stay healthy this year?
There's nothing you can do except the same thing you always do. Let me tell you what I mean by that. We go out every offseason with the same approach. You go out there, you work hard, you prepare your body in every way you can, you train as hard as you can. You try to hit as many different body parts, make sure everything is ready to go, make sure everything gets work so that when it gets to the season it's nothing new. But it's a physical game, and it's not a contact game it's a collision game, and things happen. You get caught in the pile, your ankle gets caught up, your knee gets caught up and all you can do is pray for the best and hope you have a blessed season.
You played a little nicked up last year, right?
It's been a rough couple of years. I had the big ankle injury my second season, and missed I think seven games. Had the same thing happen the next year, had surgery, missed seven more. Was able to play all but one game last year, but it's the same things. You're battling, you're always battling. Nobody is out here healthy, you just hope to be as healthy as you can be.
At your position, what does playing nicked up do to you? Does it make you slower? Take away some of your strength? I know it depends on the injury, but what's one thing that you feel you can't do if you're playing hurt?
Like you said, it depends on the injury. It's an interesting dynamic. I know, for fans, they see a guy on an injury report or they see a guy miss a few weeks and they love it when the guy is back, but you know you also got to realize that the guy is out there most likely, especially if he's missed a few weeks, most likely the injury would've taken another four, five, six weeks to recover but the guy is pushing it. When a guy goes out on that field he's battling pain, he's battling the psyche of trying to deal with this limitation, but you go out there and you fight and you fight and you fight. As far as the physical things that are lacking, it depends on the injury. It really does. I think for the most part, for this team and myself individually, when you're on that field, regardless of the injury, you make sure you have the same level of accountability you would on any other play.
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