Former LSU players Devery Henderson and Joseph Addai have taken similar approaches to this offseason.
Both are disregarding uncertainty while they focus on getting ready to return to work whenever the NFL lockout ends.
Henderson, a wide receiver with the New Orleans Saints, said he can’t take his roster spot for granted even though he has two years left on his contract. Addai, a running back with the Indianapolis Colts, said he doesn’t have the time to pay much attention to the lockout that has dragged on since March and is jeopardizing the start of training camps.
Both have been working out as best they can without being able to utilize their teams’ facilities.
Although he is not among the nearly 30 free agents the Saints have, Henderson, who has played all seven of his seasons for New Orleans, said he knows his contract doesn’t guarantee him anything. The Saints released tight end Jeremy Shockey and could do the same with running back Reggie Bush if they aren’t able to agree on a restructured contract.
“You just have to take it for what it is and go out there and prove yourself and work hard regardless of what happens,” Henderson said before the Celebrity/Sorta Celebrity Softball Game in which he, Addai and numerous other athletes competed in Friday night. “Nothing’s definite, and nothing’s written in stone.
“I’ve been approaching it that way. You never know what’s going to happen or what they’re thinking or what’s in the plan.”
Henderson, 29, had a significant drop-off statistically last season. After catching 51 passes for 804 yards (a 15.8 average) and two touchdowns during New Orleans’ Super Bowl title season two years ago, he had 34 catches for 464 yards (13.6) and one TD in 2010.
He was fourth among receivers on the team in catches and six teammates had more touchdown receptions than he did. But, Henderson said, he feels better this offseason than he did at this time a year ago because he’s healthier.
“I’ve got nothing nagging or anything,” he said. “Last offseason I had the sports hernia deal (surgery in May), and that set me back. Fortunately, this year everything is good.”
Henderson and about three dozen of his teammates held a series of workouts at Tulane University in May and June. Quarterback Drew Brees organized the workouts, which served as a lockout version of an NFL offseason program.
In addition, Henderson has been working in New Orleans with speed and conditioning instructor Wyatt Harris, a former football player and track athlete at Southern, as he has during past offseasons.
But, Henderson said, the offseason is “starting to get boring.”
“You’ve got to get the workouts in,” Henderson said. “I’m pretty much just waiting to see what happens.
“You’ve just got to be ready. The agreement could come at any time or it could be a while before they get it done. The main thing is to just be ready when they do make an agreement.”
Addai said he doesn’t have any insight into the labor talks as the principals have been tight-lipped while working with a court-appointed mediator.
“The agents don’t know anything, the players don’t know anything, the coaches don’t know anything,” Addai said. “I don’t pay attention until it actually happens. You can’t do that. You’ve just got to think about your workout situation. That’s how I go about it.”
Addai, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher in his five seasons, said he has been working out with “15-20” fellow former Tigers in Baton Rouge since March.
“Even though I’m from Houston, I like to train in Louisiana because this is more like a comfort zone,” Addai said. “I’m more relaxed here.”
Addai said he has no problem staying relaxed even though the lockout could go on indefinitely.
“I go about the offseason as though there’s going to be a season. That’s my philosophy,” Addai said. “If they start tomorrow, I’m ready. If they start in October I’m ready. I’m ready for whenever the situation might come.”