Raider players seeing results from combat sports

Oakland Raiders tight end David Ausberry (86) participates in drills during training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott.

Around the NFL there are several players fighting to make the most of their NFL careers. And in the case of the Oakland Raiders, that is quite literal. Several Raider players have utilized the lessons of hand to hand combat sports to help them with their play on the football field. And they are seeing some very positive results.

One such player is Raiders full back, Marcel Reece. He uses mixed martial arts when training and he claims it helps in many facets of the game.

"Just with the flexibility and the hips." Said Reece. "You know, just using different muscles that you never use in any sport besides Jiu Jitsu so you just use different muscles and you feel a little stronger."

Reece was a former wide receiver but since being switched to fullback for the Raiders, he has had to be a much more aggressive blocker.

Blocking is also important for a tight end. And that's why David Ausberry has been training in boxing during the offseason. He, like Reece, is a former wide receiver. In his switch to tight end, he has had to not only put on some weight but he too has had to be a much more aggressive blocker.

"I did a little boxing over the summer and that was something I took over from last season," said Ausberry. "It helps. It helps with your cardio, it helps with your eye and hand coordination and things like that."

It seems to be a common theme among the guys catching the ball to be getting into combat sports. Not just like Reece and Ausberry whose jobs rely heavily on blocking. For instance rookie undrafted free agent Rod Streater has been training in Jiu Jitsu in the offseason. He has also been working on his blocking as a receiver. He says it has helped him in every aspect of his hands and feet work.

For Streater, it was his agent who got him into it. So the agents have also gotten the word of the benefits of the martial arts on the development of players. For Streater, going undrafted, he needs every advantage he can get to give him an edge. He has shown himself to be a gem as a receiver. And with the lessons he learns from Jiu Jitsu, he hopes to gain that edge in blocking to make him an invaluable member of this team.

So far, Reece has become an invaluable asset, Ausberry appears well on his way and Streater has the attitude to make his mark as well. I think we might be seeing a rising trend.

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