LAKE FOREST – The secret for Jason Peters is in the pool.
The Bears’ 39-year-old left tackle went from fishing on a boat in Texas to starting Week 1 in the NFL in a matter of weeks. The key to his cardio, Peters said Tuesday, is running in the pool.
It’s a good workout, yet less strenuous on the body, and it still leaves him feeling energized for practice.
“I run in the pool in the morning,” Peters said. “I get here early. Probably about 35, 40 minutes just to get your legs and stuff up under you without working your legs on the field. So that way you’ve got your legs when you go on the field, but you’re still getting your cardio in.”
The regimen is working. Peters played almost the entire game Sunday in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
He left the game briefly to have an injury attended to. Peters said he dislocated a finger. The training staff popped it back into place, and he went back into the game.
“I looked down, it was going to the left,” he said of his finger.
Now in his 18th year in the NFL, Peters doesn’t need to prove to anyone that he’s a tough dude. But a ho-hum pop of the finger back into place certainly does it.
Running in the pool is something he has picked up as he has aged. Cardio was never an issue when he was younger. His energy levels were much higher. He’s smarter now about what he puts his body through outside of practice.
“When you get older, you get fatigued a little bit faster and your recovery time is longer, versus when you’re younger,” Peters said. “You just got to do more cardio to get your body used to going so hard in a long period of time.”
The Bears never planned to bring in a 39-year-old at such an important position. But with rookie tackles Teven Jenkins (back) and Larry Borom (ankle) going on injured reserve, the Bears were left with little choice.
Peters joined the team as a free agent in mid-August, when it had become apparent that Jenkins needed back surgery. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo called Peters while Peters was out fishing. Peters said he figured he knew what the call was about.
Jenkins and Borom remain the future at tackle, but the Bears needed someone with experience at left tackle now. Borom played briefly at left tackle in the season opener when Peters injured his quadriceps. An ankle injury in the second half forced Borom on injured reserve this week. He missed the Week 2 game and will miss at least three games in total.
Given the circumstances, it’s impressive what Peters has done on relatively short notice. A quad injury and a dislocated finger don’t seem to faze him much.
“That speaks to who he is,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. “He’s tough. He’s tough. That says a lot right there. Without saying a lot verbally, his actions are speaking to these players. He showed up and he played that entire game, and he fought through a lot of things there. So I appreciate that from him.”
There was never a doubt in Peters’ mind that he could still play or “I would’ve stayed home,” he said.
“It’s just the point of, football shape is a whole different ballgame,” Peters said.
If anybody understands what football shape looks like for an offensive lineman, it’s the 18th-year veteran.