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January 30, 2013

Offseason Workout with Brian Tyms and Kevin Elliott, Interviews Included

by Max Strauss

I attended an off-season workout with two current NFL players, and a few players who are working their way up. I spoke with all of them, introduced myself to all of them, but only interviewed a couple of them. I interviewed Buffalo Bills WR, Kevin Elliott who was previously a member of the Jaguars and was a star on their Special Teams unit. I also spoke with Miami Dolphins WR, Brian Tyms who spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad. Check out this article about their off-season workout on January 26th.


The other day I received a phone call from an agent, Carlos Rodriguez inviting me to come meet and interview his two clients in the NFL, Kevin Elliott and Brian Tyms. I told him I would find a way to Tamiami which is about a half an hour away from where I live at the University of Miami.

On a clear and sunny day, I walk onto the football field at Belen Jesuit Prepatory School in Tamiaimi, Florida. The first thing I was impressed by, but shouldn’t have wondered about was the turf. I didn’t expect the players to be practicing on such a nice, turf field, but it makes complete sense why would you want to run routes and work-out on the turf. I continue walking over to a group of guys that are all talking.

I was only expecting to meet Kevin Elliott and Brian Tyms, but I was fortunate enough to meet former Kean University, and now draft-eligible fullback, Danny Mendoza. I also met 2011 Northern Illinois graduate and former linebacker who’s working for a chance in the NFL, Jordan Delegal. I also met Mike Rios, who recently graduated from Marist, and is also hoping to be given a chance in the NFL.

I had the chance to meet Mike Rumph, former 1st round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, out of the University of Miami. He was the starting defensive back on the renowned ’01 Miami Hurricanes team. He trained with them. I have heard of the stories about the ’01 Canes team and their work ethic. It was pretty evident in Mike Rumph coming to this Saturday practice, and joining these guys who were all about fifteen years younger than him. I will have an interview with him coming online with him in the near future.

I found this whole experience from watching them warm-up to cool down, something that was unique. They warmed up catching passes. Then, they ran routes individually by doing drills, watching their steps, critiquing each other. That was something that was really interesting. While some jokes were exchanged, there were a couple times, I remember seeing how smart Brian Tyms was. He would pick up on something small, like quieting and smoothing out foot-steps of another receiver. It added a new level to something, that you rarely see from going to practice. Players can be their own worst critic and to see Brian trying to get help some people on their routes showed class and his drive to be great. 

Kevin Elliott clearly was trying his hardest to work on something that some Jaguars fans think why he was cut… His hands. He continued catching passes throughout passes, but was more impressive was the willingness to sprint after catches for conditioning purposes, but also to do push-ups if his form wasn’t as good as he wanted it to be. Once he started doing this, all of the other guys followed suit, and started doing push-ups for failing to meet their own expectations after running a route. 

After their workouts, I had the opportunity to interview Brian and Kevin. Check out the interviews with Kevin Elliott and Brian Tyms below the graphic.

KEBT workout

I interviewed Bills WR, Kevin Elliott first. Kevin Elliott was on the Jaguars active roster and most well-known for his Special Teams performance on the Jags. He was a great gunner. He then was waived, and quickly claimed by the Buffalo Bills. Click here if you want to download the audio to the interview with Kevin Elliott. If you want, you can read our Q&A below:

Max Strauss : What was your first season in the NFL really like?

Kevin Elliott : : It was really an up-and-down season. A lot of firsts for me. It was a great learning experience and looking forward to taking what I learned this year and building on it for my next season.

Strauss : You were a star Special Teams player with the (Jacksonville) Jaguars… Why do you find Special Teams so important?

Elliott : Special Teams is all about effort. I like to give extra effort, I like to work, and I like to do the extra things. I get to show my defensive side a little bit on Special Teams as well, and its why I enjoy it as much as playing wide receiver too.

Strauss :  And when you were waived by the Jaguars, what was going through your mind at that point?

Elliott : Basically, I was just thinking about everything that I learned. I had a good feeling that I was going to be picked up again some-time soon. I basically told the whole organization that I appreciate the opportunities and everything, and that I look forward to seeing them again later-on down the line.

Strauss : So you are with the Bills now. What was the biggest difference between the Jaguars organization and the Bills Organization?

Elliott : Really, it was the calm-ness. Everyone was real up-tight over in Jacksonville. Buffalo was really laid back. There wasn’t a lot of press. There wasn’t really yelling. It was more so coaching one-on-one-type. It was nice and chill practice. We got quality work done over there.

Strauss :  There are a bunch of wide receivers on the Bills and a lot of talented ones. Did anyone take you in and serve as a mentor with the new offense and everything?

Elliott : Not really. Not so much because I wasn’t expecting to play towards the end of the season.  Stevie [Johnson] and I did hook up to work on routes and other stuff. Both him and I are going to put in some good work this off-season.

Strauss : Speaking of the off-season, you’re training right now, how hard and how often do you train?

Elliott : I train every day of the week. January is supposed to be my month off, but I could not help it, but come out here and do some work. I had to get a little head start. I am at Bommarito [Performance] every day of the week, Monday through Friday.

Strauss :  A lot of players have something to focus on when they work out, what’s your biggest focus this NFL offseason?

Elliott : My hips are my main focus right now. I believe that once I get my hips loosened and strengthened, I feel that will make me a lot more explosive, and a lot more elusive in-and-out of my breaks. That would help me out overall. I also am catching at least 150 balls on the Jugs every-day. I have to focus on my catching, and also my hips.

Strauss : For high school and college students who want to make it to where you are, what’s the best advice you have for them?

Elliott : Hard work does not go unnoticed. If you work hard, it doesn’t matter what school that you go to, if you’re good, they are going to find you. I am living testimony, both Tyms and I are. If you work hard, you will get what you want. If you enjoy serving the lord, you will get what you want as well.

Strauss :  Alright. Thank you so much.

Elliott : No problem.

After that, I had the opportunity to speak with his former Rattlers teammate, and current Miami Dolphins practice squad wide receiver, Brian Tyms. Tyms first started off in training camp with the 49ers, and was cut before the 53 man roster was made. He signed with the Miami Dolphins a couple of weeks later, and remained on their practice squad throughout the season. Click here to download the audio to the interview with Brian Tyms. To read the Q&A, you can check it out below:

Max Strauss : You were with the 49ers in the pre-season, what was your experience like?

Brian Tyms :  : It was really intellectual as far as those dudes. I hung around [Randy] Moss as much as I could, basically every-day. I tried to learn as much as I could from him, and also from Crabtree and Manningham. There are a lot of veterans there and they taught me a lot if I just listened.

Strauss : You end up not making the team. Then you go to the Dolphins, what was the biggest change?

Tyms : The tempo. I went from a huddle offense to a no-huddle offense so it was like hell at first, but I got used to it. I

Strauss : And, what’s it like being on the practice squad?

Tyms : It’s work. From the active roster to the in-active practice squad, it’s work all throughout. Every day is game-day when you’re on the practice squad.

Strauss : What’s the biggest challenge for you on the practice squad?

Tyms : I really don’t see a challenge because I put in the work. I pray everyday before I go out and work out. I do it everyday. It’s an everyday thing. I don’t really take days off. I don’t believe in that. That’s just me. I just pray that the work that I put in shows up to these coaches. So far, it has. I’ve been there busting my butt and they had seen it.

Strauss : You go through the whole season on the practice squad. The off-season has hit. What’s your plan this off-season?

Tyms : I have big goals. As far as playing, I really want to be a starter. That’s like my goal. That is every receivers’ top goal, to be a starter, to be the go-to guy. I’m trying to be on every Special Teams. I’m trying to be just a complete athlete as far as that goes.

Strauss : How often are you training?

Tyms : I’m training every-day. Saturday, I’m doing this, and as for Sunday, I don’t do anything.

Strauss : So how much time do you put into it?

Tyms : Counting physically or mentally… I would probably say four hours physically and endless mentally. I’m always trying to put myself in situations.

Strauss : You’re training with Kevin Elliott, who is a phenomenal Special Teams player when he was the Jaguars, what is the most important thing you learned from him by training with him, and also being a teammate of his?

Tyms : We really just learn off each other. We’re two different players, but we try to gel each other’s style because it fits. He works like how I work. I work like how he works. We both came from the same place and know what it’s like being from the bottom. It’s comfortable with us that we have to work and get to the top.

Strauss : What’s the best advice you can give to someone in high school or college who wants to get to where you’re at, and play in the NFL?

Tyms : I would say to stay determined through adversity. That’s all I could possibly say. I could go into a Ray Lewis -type speech, but I’ll keep it simple and plain. Stay determined through any type of nay-sayers, any type of haters, any type of doubt. Period. You got to fight through it mentally. Because at the end of the day, it’s all on you. Anyone can say what they want. They have all these players that they draft, but I’ve seen draftees get cut with me. All of that hype-crap, it doesn’t mean anything until you get out onto this field. Even off-the-field, if you have goal, and you’re trying to chase that goal, you need to surround yourself with that goal throughout your life which means, if you hang out with a cousin who smokes weed, you don’t need to hang out with them. If you’re trying to do something with your life, always move forward. That’s what I did. I was determined to move forward.

Strauss : Alright. Thank you.

Tyms : Appreciate it.

After the interviews, I met another couple of players. Both of whom I was very impressed with, because of their size. They both just finished at Florida A&M University. They are draft eligible and former FAMU football players, defensive lineman, Padric Scott and LB, Brandon Hepburn who was recently invited to the NFL Combine and is someone that a lot of people will watch. I was very impressed with the both of them.

I really enjoyed having a different experience at Belen Jesuit in Tamiami, Florida. Thank you again Carlos Rodriguez.


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