The Washington Redskins don't report for training camp until July 29, but Donovan McNabb's "Hell Week" is scheduled to get underway bright and early Monday morning in Arizona.
While the weeks that lead up to training camp are generally treated as down time across the NFL, the Redskins quarterback has invited some of his new teammates to his Phoenix-area home for a week of grueling workouts and team building.
"I think it's important for the specialists on the offense to have that chemistry, to have that bond," McNabb says, "where they can trust me and I can trust them."
To that end, McNabb invited the Redskins' receivers, tight ends and running backs to Arizona to take part in his regular offseason workout program. It's the same opportunity he offered in the past few years to his former teammates in Philadelphia. Receivers Devin Thomas, Santana Moss and Malcolm Kelly are among those expected to participate.
McNabb calls it "Hell Week" because of the demanding nature of his workouts, but also because of the extreme summertime heat. Temperatures around Phoenix this week are expected to climb as high as 112 degrees.
"It's a different mindset," McNabb said of the week. "I prepare guys the way I prepare."
The Redskins' players were expected to land in Phoenix Sunday with an itinerary waiting for them. The week was expected to begin with an early wake-up call and the players reporting each morning to Fischer Sports, the 20,000-square foot workout facility where McNabb does most of his offseason training.
There, Brett Fischer, McNabb's trainer, will lead the group through workouts and exercises nearly identical to the ones the quarterback does during the offseason.
"For them, I think it's an eye-opener what we're doing," said Fischer, whose resume lists him as a physical therapist, an athletic trainer and a strength-and-conditioning specialist. "I think it's an eye opener for them, comparing themselves with their quarterback, with how hard he's working out here. To me, it's him telling them, 'Hey, I'm taking this thing seriously to the next level. Let's go to the next level.'"
The daily routine focuses on the athlete's core -- abdominals, the lower back, gluteal muscles and hips -- and involves everything from traditional weights to resistance bands. Fischer likes to focus on balance, flexibility, joints and areas that most athletes tend to ignore in their regular workouts.
The group also will spend plenty of time on cardio, running steep hills in the desert heat until they finally take a break in the early afternoon.
As the Ozark Mountain Daredevils once sang, if you want to get to heaven, you got to raise a little hell. Certainly McNabb and his teammates hope this week of hell will lead to lots of heavenly moments in the regular season. McNabb is currently ranked at 12 in 4for4's rankings, and if he showcases a good rapport with his receivers during training camp and the preseason, he has a decent chance of moving up. It's also worth mentioning again that Donovan will play the Rams, Lions, and Buccaneers in 2010. McNabb might not be the sure-fire bet in Washington he would have been in Philadelphia, but at worse he'll be a spot fantasy starter with some upside.