Notice that he's riding with a dislocated ring finger on his right hand, compliments of (here's that name again) DeMarcus Ware. He has tape around his right index finger, which got caught and wrenched on a Redskins lineman during practice. The fingers, remember, are the first line of defense when riding a tube.
"On the field, you're evenly matched with guys across the line," says Samuels, who will play his ninth NFL season this fall. "As the game goes on, you get banged up and tired, but you can't get sloppy. It all comes down to mental toughness. I can push through when I'm hurt or exhausted because I've been through the worst."
He points to a particular moment during his freshman year at Alabama as a turning point in his career. (It seems to be on his mind right now.) The team's strength and conditioning coach ran Samuels until he lost his biscuits and gravy on the floor of the indoor practice facility. Then the coach made Samuels get a dustpan and broom to clean up his own mess. One hands-and-knees experience like that tends to change a man.
This is why, with fingers burning and shoulders aching, he willingly crawls on top of the Radar Hovercraft. This will be another hands-and-knees encounter. Square as it is, the Hovercraft becomes surprisingly aggressive outside the wake, nearly flipping. A "normal" 330-pound person would have given up on the play immediately, but Samuels is toughing it out, hanging off the edge and looking very much like a cowboy trying to wrestle a steer. The man's agility in this situation is (no exaggeration) astonishing. The Hovercraft is righted under the arm-twisting influence from its rider. The same scenario plays out across the opposite wake, the 'craft trying to shake the anchor of the Redskins' offensive line, but he's holding firm. This wherewithal from an opponent is nothing new for Samuels.
"Guys get pumped up to play against me, to make a name for themselves," he says at the boat. "Nobody gives up."
On the rare occasion when a defender does get past Mount Samuels, he sometimes has blocking help in the way of fullback Mike Sellers, a Pro Bowl-caliber player himself. This is why Sellers, a chiseled 280 pounds, has arrived on site to aide his teammate. He is here to absorb some of the punishment - physically and, when this article comes out, verbally from his Redskins' teammates.
Sellers is the ideal fullback in football. That also makes him the ideal tube tester. On the field, his body is treated like the bumper on a crash-test car. During kickoffs he's known as a wedge-buster, the guy who leads the charge downfield and uses his head and shoulders to sledge through a wall of blockers.
"I got knocked out against the [Minnesota] Vikings last season," says Sellers, 32. "I literally woke up on the field."
He's now wide awake on the Connelly Trifecta, though it's hard to be sure while watching from the boat, because Sellers is facing backward on the clover-shaped ride, with only the back of his shaved head visible. This seems appropriate for an unsung player who gets noticed only when he's staggering to the sidelines. We can't tell if he's swearing, laughing or falling asleep - only that he appears as a bobblehead with each ripple under the Trifecta. And then a succession of wakes strikes … and Sellers gets blown out the back. Head, shoulders, glutes - the entire wrecking ball crashes into the water. And what does he get? Honks. Chuckles. Razzing. Samuels: "Just like the Minnesota game!" This is how it goes for a fullback.