Holland star of Broncos’ Biggest Loser
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado ” There’s a lengthy to-do list for Montrae Holland these days.
“Shoot, I’m doing everything,” the Broncos guard said Monday. “I’m jogging, treadmill, elliptical, StairMaster, sled, bike . . .”
Noticeably absent from that list is playing football.
Holland spends the half-speed, full-afternoon practices in uniform as a scout-team defensive lineman.
But other than that, there’s nothing on the field except off to the side.
The reason: Holland failed to make his reporting weight of 325 pounds when he came to training camp, falling about 10 pounds more than his target.
When the 16-game starter from 2007 began working with strength coach Rich Tuten at chipping away at that total, Holland’s total- body cramping was a sign he was dehydrated and his actual weight likely was higher.
So Holland will spend as long as it takes off to the side, trying to get not only to hit his assigned number but do it in a way that won’t shock his body and will get him in peak shape so he can handle the rigors of summer practices without endangering himself.
Holland believes it’ll take about another week before he’ll be back.
Tuten, while saying Holland’s timetable isn’t impossible, isn’t so sure it’s realistic, either.
“It’s an ongoing process that might take as long as a month,” Tuten said. “It has to show up on the scale. Obviously, how we tell guys are overweight is we weigh them every day to see if he’s over or under. But right now, I know he’ll probably weigh the same for a couple days or maybe a week while his body adjusts because of the hydration he needs.”
Holland’s problems actually began long before this month.
The rigors of the 2007 season took a toll on him, and he needed time to let his body recover. But by spending most of January through March in limbo, he got heavy, into the 360-pound range.
“Let’s just say it was a long trip,” Holland said, without specifying a number.
And by the time he joined the offseason conditioning program, it already was an uphill battle.
“I took too much time off,” Holland added candidly. “But I had put it all out there during the season and got banged up.”
Tuten countered the player should have done some non- weight-bearing activity and monitored his diet more closely during that cool-down period.
Instead, when Holland returned to Dove Valley, each time he stepped on the locker-room scale, he knew he might be in trouble.
“I dug a hole for myself and I’ve been dropping weight this offseason, but I need to drop more to be where I need to be to perform,” he said.
During the first few days of camp, Chris Kuper – the projected starting right tackle – has played right guard in Holland’s place, with Ryan Harris getting a shot with the first team at right tackle.
While they clash with defensive linemen, Holland often can be seen on the adjoining artificial turf field, pushing a heavy sled back and forth with Tuten barking instructions.
On Sunday, with the turf field at about 125 degrees, the workout went a solid one hour, 40 minutes without a water break.
“We’re doing this for his own good,” Tuten said. “It’s not a punishment or anything personal. It’s a player we expect a lot out of and to perform at a certain level we don’t think he can perform at right now. I’m doing everything I can to help him. I think he appreciates that. He’s not really moaned or groaned or complained about what we’re doing. The only time he complains is if he physically breaks down because of cramps or something.”
Holland called his workouts more taxing than practice but knows it’s “serious business. So I have to do it the right way.”
At the same time, he hopes his return doesn’t come too late to have a chance at starting for a second straight season.
“We’d love to have him out there,” Kuper said. “I hope he comes out here as soon as he can. He’s working hard every day to come back and play. So we’re just staying away from him, letting him do his thing.”
And it’s that isolation that might kill Holland the most. He actually enjoys wearing his jersey in the afternoon and mimicking a member of the front four for benefit of the offensive line because he gets to be around his teammates and not in his usual current state of isolation.
As for whether he’ll have a job waiting for him when he does switch lines to his natural position, Holland expects the Broncos to let the best player play.
“When I come back, I’ve got to compete. And everybody has to compete, it’s the NFL,” Holland said. “Right now, I’m competing against myself.”