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James Casey's statistics over his four-year career won't overwhelm you, but his presence on the field makes everyone around him better. Much of that is due to his incredible physique, the product of a workout regimen unrivaled in football. And some of it springs from his tremendous capacity to overcome adversity, both personal and professional. His inspiring story is the stuff field leaders are made of, and that's what Philadelphia was seeking when it offered Casey a three-year, $14.3 million contract during the 2013 off-season.
ProSource recently sat down with James Casey on the eve of the opening of Philadelphia's 2013 summer training camp and talked football, training, supplements, off-field challenges, and the many benefits of having "Football's Finest Physique." James, who prides himself on being a student of the game and a workout warrior in the weight room, had plenty to say.
ProSource: You faced a hard road to the NFL and overcame many challenges of a personal nature to get there. Can you discuss the specifics of that earlier time?
James Casey: Yes, I had some very unfortunate things happen to me when I was young. I grew up without much money at all and my mother passed away when our trailer caught on fire while I was a sophomore in high school. I really don't like to talk about it much, though. It brings up a lot of bad memories and I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me. There are many people that grow up in unfortunate situations, and I never wanted to use that as an excuse not to be successful. I came to the realization shortly after my mother passed away that she would have wanted me to grow up and make something of myself. She wouldn't have wanted me to just sit around and feel sorry for myself and complain about it. Once I realized that, I have used it as motivation ever since.
ProSource: ESPN once named you to its list of the AFC's Top 10 Most Versatile Players. You also played seven different positions while in college at Rice. What is it about your physique and approach to the game that has led coaches to give you so many different responsibilities on the field?
James Casey: Being a Tight End, you inherently need to be a versatile player. We're asked to run block on the end of the line of scrimmage, pass protect, line up in the backfield, and we need to be able to run routes like a Wide Receiver. Playing Tight End fits me perfectly, because I pride myself on being versatile. I study very hard off the field to make sure I know as much of the offense as I can. I work to make sure the coaches can trust to put me at different positions and be confident that I'll know what to do. In college, I believe my attitude had a lot to do with being given the opportunity to play multiple positions. I was always working extra after practice and willing to try new things that I haven't done before, or that the coaches haven't seen me do before. I believe that once they saw me willing to put in more work and accept more responsibility, they were willing to give me more opportunities. I am extremely grateful to the Rice University coaches for giving me those opportunities. As far as physique goes, it is very important to be lean and in shape to be able to handle the workload. I work extremely hard in the weight room to make sure I'm giving myself the best opportunity to be successful, and it never hurts to try to look the part.
ProSource: You must sit in on a lot of offensive meetings in training camp! You've been listed as a starting fullback and tight end. It's said that you'll also be lining up at a H-back and wide receiver in some formations. And, of course, there's your special teams work. What are the unique physical challenges of playing in a fast-paced, wide-open offense in Philadelphia?
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James Casey: The first thing that comes to mind is that you have to be in really good shape. As a Tight End, we're asked to do a lot of things in the NFL. This requires us to put in a bunch of work on the field lining up in many different positions. You also want to do as many preventative exercises as you can to make sure you give yourself the best chance to stay healthy all season. When you add special teams on top of the demands of playing offense, you have to work to be in great shape and take care of your body.
ProSource: You caught passes from Matt Schaub last year and will be catching them from Mike Vick this year. What's it like be on the receiving end of passes from two of football's all-time greats? Have you done any informal work with Mike Vick yet? If so, how'd it go?
James Casey: I've been very fortunate to play with a great quarterback in Matt Schaub with Houston. In my opinion, the quarterback is by far the most important position on the team. Fortunately, we have great quarterbacks here with the Eagles also. Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Dennis Dixon, and G.J. Kinne are all capable of being great players. Michael Vick has already demonstrated how great he can be and Nick Foles is well on his way to being a great player. Through OTAs and minicamp, I've been very impressed with our quarterbacks and think we are poised to have a great offense this year.
ProSource: This feature is called "Football's Finest Physique," so obviously your conditioning is phenomenal. You're well known as a 5am-in-the-locker-room kind of guy. First one in, last one out. Is there anything you have left to improve in terms of your physique? Can you describe your typical off-season training regimen?
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James Casey: I do arrive at the field very early every day and usually stay pretty late. I pride myself on being very consistent. I always tell myself that no one is going to match my consistency over the long run. At this point in my career, I'm not as concerned with physique as I used to be when I was younger. I still try to eat really healthy and take care of myself, but my main focus now is on functional strength for football and explosiveness. We have some great strength coaches here in Philadelphia and I've been following what they prescribe very closely. We do a lot of Olympic lifts and some other unique things that I can't really get into. There is a bunch of science that goes behind everything we do in training and I believe it is really going to give us an advantage this season.
ProSource: You're coming off minor surgery to clear out loose cartilage in your knee. How's your rehab coming along?
James Casey: I'm back to 100% with no issues. It only took me about two weeks to get back to full speed. As far as surgeries go, the knee scope is not that serious. I've had a couple of them now, and I've always bounced back without any problems. I'm feeling the best I've ever felt right now and ready to have a great year!
ProSource: Are supplements a big part of your training regimen and diet? Do you take a daily protein formula? Creatine? Vitamins? Pre-workout or post-workout supplements?
James Casey: Yes, I do use supplements pretty regularly to help me recover, and get bigger and stronger. I really like all the ProSource supplements and they have been working really well for me. ProSource's NytroWhey Ultra Elite protein, ProSource Creatine Monohydrate, ProSource Mega BCAA, and ProSource Super MegaMax have all been helping to give me some really good gains in strength and explosiveness lately. I've also been taking Assault by MusclePharm as a pre-workout for a while now and it's been really good to me.
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ProSource: The Philadelphia Eagles are taking a blow-it-up-and-start-over approach this year, and yet they expect to be highly competitive with innovative coach Chip Kelly at the helm. Expectations are unusually high for a team that's made so many changes. How are you and your new teammates dealing with the added pressure that comes with success?
James Casey: There is a lot of excitement around the building and deservedly so. Chip Kelly is a great coach and we have many great players on the roster. We are expecting great things this year, but they are just expectations right now. Everyone in the organization is willing to put in all the hard work that it is going to take and do whatever we have to do to be successful. There's always a lot of pressure in the NFL, but that doesn't affect us. I always look at everything as an opportunity and I'm looking forward to getting on the field during training camp and demonstrating all the hard work that I have been putting in this offseason.
ProSource: Thanks for sharing with our readers, James.
Our vote is in here at ProSource. We say James Casey has football's finest physique. Who do YOU think has football's ultimate combination of size and strength? Comment below and let us know.