Dolphin QB Pennington poised for best season yet

By Rob Geiger  |   Tuesday, August 04, 2009  |  Comments( 0 )

Miami Dolphins
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MIAMI (Aug. 3) -- Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington is entering this year's training camp with as much confidence as he's ever had.

He's coming off a '08 campaign where he threw for 19 touchdowns and 3,653 yards ­-- just a few individual season stats that were at or near career bests -- and was a major factor in leading the Dolphins back to respectability in the NFL.

It's also the second straight year Pennington's been able to spend the offseason training rather than rehabbing an injury. The difference was clear a year ago. He expects things to be even better this time through and he points to the influence of longtime trainer Charles Petrone as the main reason for his improved performances. Pennington and Petrone first started working together when Pennington was in high school.

"After the 2007 season in New York I had a chance to sit back find out who I was as a professional football player and who I was as a person," Pennington said. "On the professional side, I went back to some people who helped get me to where I am, and Charlie was the first guy I thought of.

"We sat down and talked and immediately felt like we needed to develop a full annual plan that would take me through the offseason leading up to training camp, and would then carry me through the season and all the way into the playoffs."

Pennington said he's learned that working out during the season is just important as it is in the offseason, mainly because it wards off the grueling toll an NFL season can have on the body.

"Feeling good at training camp is one thing but I should be able to feel good and fire around 90 percent in December," the 33-year-old Pennington said. "A lot of athletes don't have a plan during the season and their performance falls off dramatically."

Petrone's plan isn't a one-size-fits-every-athlete solution from a fitness factory. Every athlete from preps to pros gets individual and ongoing work with Petrone himself, and he crafts a regime that will help the athlete achieve maximum performance.

"Charlie has been real good about being individual specific," Pennington said. "He tailors the programs to my needs as an individual football player. Nothing about him or what he does is cookie-cutter.

"This year we've focused on the central nervous system and trying to fire the body and muscles up, as opposed to loading my system down with heavy weights where you end up feeling lethargic and slow.

"One of our mottos has been, 'Be an Athlete.' We want to return to being an athlete and not giving in to getting older. It's important to take pride in still being an athlete: having a good vertical jump, running solid 40s and 20-yard splits, just like you did when you were younger going through the combine. It gives you an opportunity to measure your progress and gives you confidence."

Part of the program utilizes Petrone's own invention -- the SpeedBand, which hones Pennington's ability to utilize a quick burst on his feet that can keep a play alive.

"Instead of using these bands laterally, we use them linearly," Pennington said. "We've used them extensively to improve my leg speed, which for me, my whole world as a quarterback lies within a zero to 10 yard radius. For me to escape for three to five yards or get out of the pocket and make a throw, that's the world I live in. These bands have been able to really help me with my bursts, escape quickly, then make a decision to throw downfield.

"It's helped me return to being a better athlete, the kind I was as a younger player."

Petrone's program has given Pennington a powerful second act to his football career.

"I feel so much different from the last couple of years," Pennington said. "I wasn't able to work with Charlie much from 2004-06 was because of my shoulder surgeries. I was spending so much time in the training room and the rehab room that I couldn't train normally. I've been able to stay healthy the last couple of years and have been able to focus on me as an athlete and do the things that will make me a better football player."

Pennington said he spreads the advantages of being a client of Petrone Training to his teammates and even the occasional opponent.

"The neat thing about Charlie and I is that we've been working together since I was 16 years old," Pennington said. "I've seen his business grow by leaps and bounds and he's seen me grow as a football player and a person. We've been in this thing together for a long time. When people ask what I've done differently or what I believe in now as a vet that will help prolong a career or make you a better athlete, I tell them I believe in the training techniques we use.

"I try to be judicious about the advice I give because there are so many gimmicks out there and so many programs that as pro athletes you have to be very wary of what you are being sold or what you are being told. But you can see my results with Charlie and see the results working. I've targeted a couple of guys this year who I thought Charlie's guidance may help them, especially the 8, 9, 10-year veteran guys that are looking to prolong their careers and stay ahead of the pack."
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