Today begins the first in a season-long series called "How I Prepare," looking at how various Detroit Lions prepare during the week for a game. The series will typically run Tuesdays.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- As Detroit Lions left guard Rob Sims has transitioned from rookie to veteran and from Seattle to Detroit, his plan has changed.
His preparation and body were different early in his career. The maintenance he needed to ensure readiness every Sunday was not as extensive. The massages and chiropractic appointments he now has twice a week did not exist. Neither did his manicure and pedicure.
Then Sims was traded to Detroit in 2010. Now 30 years old, he added upkeep components to his preparation.
Masseuse Carmen Jewell drives up from Toledo, Ohio, on Tuesdays and Fridays to give Sims a 90-minute massage. His chiropractor shows up for 15-minute sessions. Sims does this at home so he can spend more time with his wife and children during the season.
On Fridays, his barber drives in from Cleveland and cuts hair -- sometimes at the Lions’ facility. He also has a manicure and pedicure then.
"It’s not just your nails, it’s the massage that goes into it," Sims said. "My hands are hurting from all the punching that goes into it, so that helps. So soak them for a little bit in Epsom salt, grain alcohol, things like that.
"Get the soreness out. The more you take care of your feet, especially down the line, it really helps later in the season."
Perhaps later in life as well, whenever Sims retires. Body preservation is the reason he pays $5,000 in-season for massage and around $500 a week for hair, nail and feet care. He said chiropractor visits are covered by insurance.
That’s the rehabilitation portion of Sims’ preparation. Then comes football.
On a typical week, Sims does a full-body workout at the Lions facility along with cardio to work out any soreness from the game played Sunday. It is Monday when he also starts his personal planning. He looks at his opponent that week -- both the team he’ll face as well as the individual tackle and end he’ll line up against -- and will request certain video.
The video requested will always be games he played in as supplement to what the team provides. If Sims faces a divisional opponent, he will ask for all the games he’s played against them. If he is unfamiliar with the team, like Sunday’s opponent, the Carolina Panthers, he asks for specific videos of players he faced throughout his career with similar traits to his matchups. He watches his opponent as early as possible during the week so he knows which games and players he wants to request.
"Every guy I can kind of put into a box of, kind of, who this guy is like," Sims said. "You know, there’s only a couple guys in the league who are just unique and you have to prepare differently for them. But there’s usually, whether he’s a big guy or fast guy who moves around a lot, I can go find somebody like him and go watch how I played against that person."
Once the games are loaded onto his iPad, he’ll watch them a handful of times throughout the week. On Mondays and Tuesdays, he is studying himself more than the defense -- especially if it is not film of the actual opponent that week. He is watching his hand placement and foot placement to see what worked then so he could mimic to try and increase success on Sundays.
"I want to get a start on the game plan," Sims said. "So when I come in Wednesdays and Thursdays, whoever I’m going against on the show team, I can say, 'Hey, this is what this guy gives me, give me that.’ "
Monday nights he reserves for either down time with his wife or teammates. On Tuesday morning, Sims takes his children to school and continues studying between the massage, chiropractic appointments and time in the hot tub.
By Wednesday morning, he is at the team’s facility by 7:45 a.m. for meetings that last until around 11 a.m., discussing matchups, game plan and review film. Then the team has a walkthrough, lunch and more meetings before practice. Post-practice, there are a few more meetings to work on the plan. In those meetings, he asks coaches and teammates for advice on what he missed. He also adds practice video to his viewing plan.
The schedule repeats Thursday, when teams typically do a bulk of their game prep work before a condensed Friday as the team winds down practice to ramp up for the game Sunday.
Then, on Saturday, he rests after a final walkthrough.
"My family knows in the morning, when we get done practicing, I come home and usually just watch movies," Sims said. "Hang out with the kids, sometimes without the kids. Clear my head, you know.
"Not worry about playing football or anything. That’s just my time."
Sunday is game day. Then he wakes up in the morning and starts the process all over again.