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Muscle Sport Magazine

WR Kenny Stills of the New Orleans Saints CrossFit Training Style

When Kenny Stills, Jr. was chosen in the fifth round (144th overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints, the team may have been taking a flyer (no pun intended) out on the diminutive but fast as lightning wide receiver.

“(My speed) kind of earned me my offers in college,” says Stills, whose father played defensive back for the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. “I ran a 4.3 40-yard dash in a local high school combine.”

The 6’, 194-pounder had to fight for a spot on the Saints’ roster as a rookie and knew what he had to do to make head coach Sean Payton a believer.

“Just being able to run all day,” Stills, 21, says of his strategy. “You want to keep the same playing out there on defense to tire them out with the no-huddle offense.”

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Stills not only made the team, but started 10 games a year ago and had 32 receptions for 641 yards and five touchdowns. This season, Stills has started four of the Saints’ six games and has 19 catches for 301 yards and a touchdown. Being one of the fastest players on the field has certainly paid dividends for the former Oklahoma Sooner.

To keep up his speed and improve his endurance level, Stills performs what he describes as a “CrossFit style workout,” which includes a high amount of repetitions in a series of movements performed in a circuit without rest.

“You want to be moving at all times,” explains Stills. “Doing exercises such as air squats, burpees and cleans. Push yourself to the limit to be in elite shape.”

What he has been doing since donning the gold helmet of the Saints is a power-based workout first (which includes bench presses, squats, etc.) and then to finish the training session with the CrossFit moves, which helps build up his stamina.

When it comes to cardio, Stills prefers to be in the great outdoors instead of in a gym on a machine. “I like to run on the beach back home (in San Diego) and in New Orleans, they have some good hills.  

Breaking away from the members of the opponent’s secondary and accumulating YAC (yards after catch), Stills knows that speed will only get him so far. He has to also build up his core for his hips and just plain movement skills.

So besides the football basics such as ladder and cone drills, the Saints strength and conditioning staff has the players emphasizing their core muscles. “Planks, sit-ups, reverse sit-ups and a lot of medicine ball drills,” says Stills. “We’ll sit on the ground with a partner, feet together and throw a 15-pound med ball back and forth for 100 reps.”

Being a second-generation NFL player, Stills has been able to use that to his advantage that perhaps most cannot. “With my dad being a former player, I’ve been around the game a long time,” he says. “I’ve watched game film for a long time, so I know where to be on the field at all times.”

 

Follow Kenny Stills, Jr. on Twitter

Photo: Kevin A. Koski/NFLPA

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