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Wednesday, August 1
Coughlin preaches importance of hydration

By John Clayton

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin understands the problem of heat. His team practices daily in 90-degree temperatures and high humidity.

That's why every camp opens with a lecture. This year, in fact, Coughlin had a Gatorade scientist speak to the team about dehydration and drinking liquids.

Tom Coughlin
Tom Coughlin emphasizes hydration during camp.

"You do a lot of research and take the advice of your medical people," Coughlin said. "You spend a lot of time on nutrition and dehydration. You bring experts in to talk to your team about it. Your trainers are very much aware of making players drink. Our guys have done a good job with that."

Even though Coughlin is considered one of the league's toughest taskmasters, his teams rarely have problems with dehydration. In fact, Coughlin said only two players needed fluids after practice this year.

"In this climate, particularly in this day and age where we've had a few tragedies in the past few months, we pay close attention to it," Coughlin said.

Coughlin closely follows heat data. At 6:30 a.m. each day, Coughlin gets a weather report detailing the heat of the day. Between practices, the data is updated.

"On the real hot days, you have to make some necessary adjustments," Coughlin said. "Some days, you have two breaks."

Jaguar players don't seem to have a problem with Coughlin's summer practices. They appreciate the hydration lecture to start camp. Players are even evaluated to determine who might have trouble with dehydration.

"This team is real abreast on the heat and what it takes for our bodies to be climitized in this environment," said wide receiver Keenan McCardell, the Jaguars' player representative. "I learned a lot this year from the Gatorade people. Like the other day, I lost nine pounds. I drank four Gatorades and six waters. You have to put it back in your system."

McCardell, in fact, learned this week why salt was being pushed for so many years. McCardell eats healthy food as a whole.

The scientific part of the supplements and nutrients and those kind of things makes you very conscious of safety.
Tom Coughlin, Jaguars head coach

"Salt is bad for you, but when you are sweating you got to put it back in your system," McCardell said. "Now, I know why the guys say go heavy with your salt. I learned something."

In today's NFL, an additional concern is how supplements taken by players could change the balance of hydration. It makes a coach like Coughlin even more aware of the importance of having players drink liquids.

"The scientific part of the supplements and nutrients and those kind of things makes you very conscious of safety with regard to whether you are a trainer or a player or a doctor and what you recommend," Coughlin said.

Still, it is a coach's job to push his players regardless of the conditions.

"You have to," Coughlin said. "Conditioning is the other phase of the game that comes along. If you look at our offseason conditioning program, our players are in great physical shape. But when you put the pads on and come back on the field and you got the bodies that are hitting each other every play, you have the fatigue factor.

"You have your nutrition problems and the hydration problems. There is an awful lot to be said what's in the stomach. You have players sometimes who don't like to eat, but you have to eat. There are a lot of concerns."

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for

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