ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -Denver Broncos safeties John Lynch and Hamza Abdullah are accustomed to hitting guys pretty hard.
They have a newfound respect for boxers now after taking up the sweet science in the offseason, along with receiver-returner Quincy Morgan.
Lynch decided to add six weeks of boxing to his winter workout regimen to refresh his mind and body as he prepared for his 15th season in the NFL. Abdullah and Morgan followed suit in the summer, and all three say it's something that will be a permanent part of their strength and conditioning programs.
``I don't take breaks, I don't feel like you can, but you need things to keep training fresh,'' said Lynch, who didn't want to just do his usual running drills in the offseason. ``It gets old, it gets tired. And I thought it was something that could keep it fresh and prove beneficial, the hand placement, the quickness, things that we use blitzing, and it just really got me in good condition.
``You've got to be in tremendous condition, particularly at this altitude.''
Lynch said the boxing helped his footwork and his handwork, ``and one thing it certainly made me do is respect those guys. Going three-minute rounds, I wasn't even getting hit. We were just punching the bags and stuff. My gosh, those guys are impressive.''
Abdullah said boxing improved his strength and stamina.
``I have a newfound respect for boxers and the training that they go through,'' Abdullah said. ``I mean, you don't realize how long three minutes is until your trainer has you punching for three rounds straight, or even jump-roping for three minutes straight.
``He'll have you squatting down walking back and forth - they call that a duck walk. Do that for three minutes straight. It's tough, the core work, the conditioning. Of course, every sport has its conditioning and every sport is different, but boxing shape? Oh, man. It's serious.''
While Lynch and Abdullah were introduced to boxing at different gyms in the Denver area this offseason, Morgan has grown up around boxing back in Texas. But this was the first offseason that he trained with his uncle John Morgan, a former youth champion, at Houston's Savannah Boxing Club, where former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield and lightweight champ Juan Diaz also work out.
``I did it for conditioning and taking some of the pressures off my body, my knees,'' Morgan said. ``The guy I go to, I do six to 10 rounds of sparring with hand bags. You get off that, you get out in the ring, you go to 100-punch drills on the heavy bag. Those guys, they work, the boxers.''
Morgan said his regular running regimen had become stale.
``After seven years, the same old 'gases' and 100s just weren't going to do it for me this offseason,'' he said. ``So, I decided to go to the boxing gym, and I'm going to do it for the rest of my career.''
Morgan said he could tell a big difference in training camp because he had better cardiovascular conditioning and his energy and endurance were noticeably higher.
As much as he hates to admit it, two-a-days were a bit of a relief for Morgan after his time in the ring.
``You can try it, if you're punching your arms, you get more out of that than running 100s and 'gases' because you're constantly swinging and you're not only swinging but you're staying low, you're dodging, you're moving around the ring and then you're punching,'' Morgan said.
``They do a lot of stuff. When you warm up, you jump rope for three sets of three minutes, four sets of three minutes, you do a stair-stepper after your whole workout. I mean, it's everything, push-ups.
``I came back in good shape.''
And he's kicking himself for not taking it up sooner.
``My uncle's boxed his whole life, so I've been around it. He always used to take me to the gym when I was younger,'' Morgan said.
While Lynch plans to keep lacing up the gloves, he's not interested in mixed martial-arts fighting like some of his contemporaries such as San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman and Kansas City defensive end Jared Allen.
``I was back in San Diego and Shawne Merriman heard I was doing some boxing and he's doing some of the Ultimate Fighting stuff, so he invited me out to do that. I said, 'Maybe not such a good move with Shawn Merriman out there at 270,''' recounted Lynch, who is 50 pounds lighter and two inches shorter than Merriman.
``I said, 'Yeah, I'll catch you next year.' But he just wanted to show me what he was doing. A lot of guys are doing things like that.''
Like Lynch and Morgan, Abdullah is going with stick with boxing - and not just because of the physical payoffs.
``I bought a two-year membership,'' he said. ``I have to keep going.''

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