How I Prepare: Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy

How I Prepare is a season-long series about what specific Detroit Lions players do each week to get ready for Sundays.

Previous How I Prepare subjects: LG Rob Sims; P Sam Martin

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – DeAndre Levy is acclimating himself to modern NFL technology. As more NFL game plans, playbooks and even in-game pictures become downloadable on iPads, Levy remains addicted to pen and paper.

The way the Detroit Lions linebacker has played the last two seasons, he shouldn’t change. This is how Levy learns during meetings, his own film watching and his review at the end of every day.

“I’m slowly transitioning. I’m slowly changing,” Levy said. “I started carrying my iPad around. I never carried it before. I just write everything down. It helps me remember better and easier reference. I don’t have to log in and worry about if it is charged. I can’t really write on the screen.”

Over the past two seasons, Levy altered his film and lifting routines. Sticking with it is, he said, one of the reasons he has improved to a Pro Bowl-level linebacker the past two seasons.

“You get to a point where you start taking it personally,” Levy said. “Like you want to be effective and make the most out of your opportunities here. I think that’s definitely a part of it, finding that routine and being consistent and enjoying the process of it.

“Enjoying working out and coming in every day and having a new challenge in front of you. That’s a big part of it, learning to embrace the process.”

Writing is a big part of Levy’s weekly process, and he needs a new notebook. From the start of training camp, he estimates he has 75 to 80 pages of notes, front and back. Every day during meetings and film, he jots down whatever he can digest about the game plan. Little notes he can use as reference points along with daily practice corrections.

He reads over the notes for about an hour every day before he goes to bed then once more Saturday morning.

On Fridays, he condenses his notes to one page of bullet points with the occasional play diagram. This turns into his keys to read over Saturday as he focuses on Sunday.

When he is watching film, Levy is studying tendencies on certain down-and-distance calls. More than specific plays, he tries to grasp overall concepts, how a running back cuts or routes a tight end prefers on third down. He knows plays and personnel groupings can change by the week, but typically concepts remain the same for teams.

He’ll ask for specific cutups of big runs and the opposing offense’s last two games. He’ll typically watch those on his own on Tuesday so he is prepared for questions and what he wants diagrammed over the next three days. If he is trying to understand something specific, he’ll ask coaches to diagram it for him.

The other big part of Levy’s routine is what he calls his “maintenance.” He stays in contact with his trainer, Brad Arnett, at NX Level in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The two developed his current routine that he credits for some of his success.

Levy comes in Mondays around 11 a.m. and does a light total body lift to help maintain joints -- specifically shoulders, ankles and knees. He stretches and gets in the hot tub. Tuesday is a heavier lift day for Levy -- and his leg day -- along with =time in hot and cold tubs.

“It’s early in the week,” Levy said. “I don’t want my legs to be tired or sore.”

Levy shows up for the optional morning lift, working out his upper body, on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, along with more maintenance depending on what ails him. He’ll typically stretch during the hour between the Lions’ morning walkthrough and lunch to start prep for practice.

Friday is similar, but without the afternoon meetings. On Saturdays, Levy shows up before meetings to have one more light lift for 45 minutes to one hour -- “nothing intense, just to get a sweat” -- to give him one final chance to focus for the week.

“I try to make it a point to be in the weight room every day doing something,” Levy said. “We have the optional lifts and I try to be in there every day, just for me personally. I know what my body responds well to and it’s constantly doing something. Being consistent every day.”

Light lifts are misnomers for the linebacker. Levy doesn’t get fancy with lifts during the season, sticking with dead lifts, pull-ups and back and shoulder work. His strategy for lifting is to continue to lift heavy during the season and taper throughout the year as his body -- like all NFL players -- starts to have typical wear and tear.

He’ll try to lift about 80 to 90 percent of his maximum weight, which is around 600 pounds on dead-lifting and 400 pounds on the bench press. This will lessen as the season goes on.

He does all of this -- the lifting, the writing, the studying -- to help maximize himself Sundays, when he arrives at the stadium by 10:30 a.m. to get ready to play before it starts all over again.