PITTSBURGH – Illinois offensive lineman Kendrick Green’s goal seemed straightforward enough: to complete a Nordic loop at the end of his pre-draft practice with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather.
Just one loop in 12 weeks.
But in reality, freeing his 6-foot-4, 312-pound frame from kneeling perpendicular to the ground on the descent until his face was smashed into the grass to come back to its starting point required an immense amount of effort. control – and force.
The first time he tried it in January, Green was not far from completing the reverse sit-up. And yet it still had to work on the skill every week of his training before he finally finished the start of the loop to end on March 8, screaming as he stood up triumphantly from the rep.
âFor a 312-pound man to do it, not only is it ridiculous pound for pound, but it’s pretty impressive,â Manyweather said. “What people saw was this video just before that [Illinois] pro day, but Kendrick had been working on it and had failed every week since our program started in January. That was his goal, to be able to do one or two before the end of our program. And it did not happen by chance.
âHe’s so competitive, and that meanness and that same mentality that you see on the pitch shows in that competitive toughness in training. And there you have it, 10, 11 weeks later, is he able to do a full Nordic face on the ground and be able to get up.
Green’s dedication and work ethic to achieve a Nordic Loop gives a window into his attitude on the court as the Pittsburgh Steelers third-round pick and intended starting center.
âI was always trying to get just one rep,â Green said. “That week I finally got it, and it was just showing stacking, which you can do. I’m trying to implement it in my game as well. Stack the days, every day gets better and better. better until you finally get the breakthrough. “
A goaltender for most of his career in Illinois, Green will need to rack up days to move into center full-time. The Steelers have been vague about their exact plans with Green, but in announcing the Steelers pick last month, Run DMC featured Green as a center.
“We’re looking at him in the middle, but he’s more than capable of playing all three positions the same,” Steelers new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said on Green’s selection night. “I’m just excited about the flexibility of his position and all he can do.”
Green started four games at center, including three in the 2020 season. For Manyweather, a Dallas-area offensive line coach whose clientele includes dozens of NFL players and prospects, the gang said proves Green will have little trouble making the transition to a full-time center.
âHe’s a guy who on tape played a lot of custody and played very physical football,â said Manyweather. âWhen we asked him to play center, all of a sudden it jumped out of the gang. This guy is too small a guard, but when you look at the physical traits and characteristics of what he can do sideways reaching and cutting and being able to hold on to the point of attack and move to the point attack, you ‘is like’ Oh man, when he moved to the center, maybe that’s that kid’s position. ‘”
Former Illinois coach Lovie Smith, who signed Green as part of his first recruiting class, thought the same. Smith was among the group that convinced Green to switch from defensive tackle to offensive line after his red shirt season in part because of the defensive line’s backlog of talent.
Three months later, he was up for it. And while Green was mostly used in guard, Smith believes center will end up being his ticket to a long NFL career.
âIf we had left him on the defensive line, he could have been a good defensive lineman,â said Smith. âI just thought he might be a special offensive lineman. Most special offensive linemen could probably play defense because they have that type of athletic ability, and it’s guys like Kendrick.
âI thought he could help the team win a lot more by being a double offensive center / offensive guard. â¦ Center was always his best position. When he had to play in the center, he moved there effortlessly.
The same drive that allowed him to pass the Nordic Loop also gives him a solid foundation as an offensive lineman. In the weight room, this workout manifests as he competes with himself and others. On the pitch, it turned out to be a bad streak when he crushed his opponents on the first drive – something Illinois center Doug Kramer saw as his linemate.
âJust when you saw KG knock a guy down, crumple someone on the first record, you knew he was ready to play,â Kramer said. “For me, it was trying to match that and do the same things he did.”
The Steelers are hoping Green will have the same effect on his new teammates.
âIt just sets the tone, especially in this position,â said Klemm, playing with nastiness. âIt’s the belly of the beast. He goes out and plays with this type of behavior that characterizes the whole group. If we play collectively like this, it’s contagious for the team.
While Green has spent years perfecting his offensive online game, the element of villainy cannot be taught – and owning him inherently makes him a coveted player, especially on a Steelers line that lacked physics in the end. from last season.
âYou either have it or you don’t,â Manyweather said. âYou can back off a little bit, but you can’t frame it and you can’t teach it. This is a trait that is not just a trait, but a critical factor, in my opinion, for those who want to be elite offensive linemen. Just so I could flip that switch and have it. You saw it with [the Jets’] Mekhi Becton last year. You see it with [the Bucs’] Ryan Jensen. You see it with [the Steelers’] Kevin Dotson.
âIt’s something that comes out on tape for Kendrick, that physical endurance, that competitive endurance and that ability and mindset to always end.
Ahead of the rookie minicamp, Green chose No.53 as his jersey number, which was recently canceled when Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey announced his retirement after a 10-year career. Pouncey, by the way, gave his blessing, telling ESPN, âIt’s just a number – memories are never given. My jersey number at each level after my departure has been returned. It’s all part of football. “
Jersey numbers hardly guarantee positions, but Green is bracing for some giant shoes to fill if he follows in Pouncey’s footsteps and wins the starting center position as a rookie.
But if this loop is any indication, Green is quite capable of setting lofty goals and sticking to them.