Nobody is enjoying the lockout, but after talking with a number of players I can see the physical benefit for certain guys, even if it is a forced rest. The time away from the grind might actually prove to be just what the doctor ordered.
Teams like the Steelers and Packers that played right into the Super Bowl in February, especially the guys in the trenches and running backs, could benefit from the rest. Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall and Green Bay's James Starks combined for 150 postseason touches, and even though they are young the rest is well deserved.
Here's a look at a few more players who I think will have a positive experience as they recharge their batteries:
Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens
Lewis only knows one way to work on a football field: all out. I've watched him at camp a number of years, and it is impressive how he works, runs to the ball and stays so focused all the time. He is 36 years old, and considering in just the past three seasons he's played in 55 games it's time for a break! In those 55 games, he's been in on more than 400 tackles, as well as sacks, interceptions, passes defended and forced fumbles. A missed season wouldn't be good for him, but a long spring rest sure is a benefit.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
He is such a violent runner, and as long as he is getting some work on his own in the offseason, the R&R is great for a guy who has averaged 353 touches for the past three years.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
Johnson is not a big back, and he has a bull's eye on his chest every play. He relies on speed and quickness, and freshening up his body -- especially his legs -- will be good for him. Johnson has touched the ball 1,062 times in his first three seasons (354 on average). That means he absorbs a hit at least 300 times, which doesn't include all the collisions he deals with in pass protections.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
Jones-Drew is coming off a knee injury, and even though he loves to work hard, the rest is important. He is a physical back and will take the game to the tacklers. He has touched the ball 698 times in the last two seasons in 30 games (349 on average). He too gets a lot of wear and tear from the pass protection game.
James Farrior, LB, Steelers
I talked with Farrior a few weeks ago, and he really appreciates the opportunity to recharge his 36-year-old body. When you consider the playoff games and that he hasn't missed a regular-season game over the past three years, he has played in 54. In those 54 games he has been involved in 344 tackles. As Farrior said, "I don't really need to be lining up in base defense this time of year at an (offseason training activity)."
Jared Allen, DE, Vikings
I talked with Allen recently, and he said he is enjoying the extended time away from the game to work on his cross training. He made the point that after studying himself on tape he uses mixed martial arts as a way to improve his football skills. There's no doubt he is energized by doing some different things this time of year. Allen is only 255 pounds, and his body can take a heavy beating. Since joining the Vikings three seasons ago, the 29 year old hasn't missed a game and played in 51. He has 43 sacks in those 51 games, and I think he is poised for a big season in 2011. Rest during the lockout will only help him get ready.
Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE, Lions
Unlike some of the other guys I talked with who appreciate the time away from football to recharge, Vanden Bosch misses every second he spends away from the game. He told me it's killing him not to be with his teammate's every day sweating, lifting weights and working together. He had neck surgery this offseason and said he feels 100 percent, but I think the slow pace of the offseason is actually good for the team leader who will turn 33 during the season. He told me when the lockout is finally lifted he'd be okay with practice every day until the first game. Of course, that's not going to happen, but it does tell you a little bit about how much he misses football.
Chad Clifton, OT, Packers
Clifton will turn 34 this month and has 159 regular season starts in his career, plus an extensive postseason resume. Just last season he was on a Packers offense that had 1,000 regular-season plays and another 248 plays in the postseason. He played well in the Super Bowl and doesn't need to be lining up in OTAs to remember his role in the offense.