BUFORD, Ga. -- There are certain guys in the NFL who make a difference with their play. There are others, like Richard Seymour who make a difference with their presence.
NFL players descend on Atlanta
An estimated 25 players who train with Tom Shaw at the Disney Sports Complex in Orlando have arrived via bus in suburban Atlanta to train with the more than 30 players from the Raiders on Wednesday and Thursday.
Plans are still being formulated as to whether the groups will train together -- the Raiders are expected to go through seven-on-seven drills as a team. All players will lift weights and be put through positional training drills by Shaw's staff as well as coaches and trainers from Chip Smith's Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta.
-- Steve Wyche
No one will ever have more sway than owner Al Davis, who dictates everything Silver and Black. However, during this lockout, when Davis' reach can't touch the players, it's Seymour who wields respect and is using it to generate momentum so the team can build off its 8-8 record in 2010.
That was evident when 32 of Seymour's teammates -- most of them frontline starters and the top two draft picks -- showed up for a three-day minicamp in suburban Atlanta, near where Seymour lives. He footed the bill for accommodations, food and for the training staff that is putting the team through its paces.
A lot of players take part when someone else is paying. A lot probably also don't mind coming to the ATL, where it seems at least a third of all pro athletes reside, in large part because of the region offers several samplings of the lifestyle that young, well-paid athletes tend to enjoy.
Despite all that, most of his teammates paid their own way to get there.
Jason Campbell, Darren McFadden, Rolando McClain, Louis Murphy, Marcel Reece, Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Kyle Boller, Bruce Campbell and draft picks Stefan Wisniewski and Damarcus Van Dyke were among those who showed. Players arrived to the first day of unexpectedly challenging on-field workouts in a convoy of silver and black vehicles. Whether that was coincidental or planned, the symbolism set the tone.
Seymour was the focal point, throughout. Before being put through two hours of mostly positional drills by Competitive Edge Sports founder Chip Smith and his staff, they rallied around Seymour, who reminded players it was a non-contact session and that they were there to get better, not get hurt.
But the most poignant moment of the first day of workouts was provided by Seymour. Every position group -- no kickers or punters were there -- had at least three players except the defensive line (defensive tackle Tommy Kelly arrived well into the workout).
Seymour, 31 years old and 10 seasons in the league, got after it solo, with Smith putting him through some lung-expanding, quadriceps-punishing drills. As hard as his teammates were pushed -- McClain openly asked "What the (heck) have we gotten ourselves into?" -- they all saw Seymour going at it alone.
When I joked with McClain that he needed to call in a few more linebackers so he could take a break, he pointed at Seymour and without a word, made his point abundantly clear.