Drew Forbes hasn't been able to spend any part of his offseason in the trenches, but the second-year offensive lineman has done plenty of work to keep his hands dirty.
Forbes has spent most of his offseason assisting with farm work on land owned by his wife's family near Bonne Terre, Missouri, his hometown. He's been milking cows, driving a tractor and hauling hay bales to keep his body in shape and kill time.
If it weren't for the COVID-19 pandemic, Forbes would've spent the last month in Cleveland preparing for a deep competition for the starting right guard position and other backup linemen battles.
He's still had his hands full with football work, but he's needed to juggle that with life on the farm.
"That's been my second job right now," Forbes said in an upcoming edition of "Working From Home."
"It's kind of fun. I can't say I've ever done it before. It's a whole new world to me — waking up early and getting all this done. It's opened our eyes to a simpler way of life, but we love it."
Forbes hasn't gotten many days off, but the physical workload has matched the type of training he'd undertake in OTAs. On-field workouts and all in-person training were cancelled, however, until training camp. Instead, players needed to complete their normal offseason activities through Zoom calls and video workouts during the virtual offseason program.
The program ended last week, but Forbes' work on the farm is set to continue.
"That's where our weekends are spent, but we love it," he said. "It's hard to beat sitting in an air-conditioned tractor and driving around. It's almost an office job."
The farm life might be beneficial to Forbes when he returns to Cleveland in late July for training camp. When players return for on-field practices, Forbes will be in a competition with several linemen for a vacant starting job at right guard, and the battle figures to be one of the premier competitions of camp.
Forbes, who played in two games last year after recovering from a knee injury suffered in the final preseason game, is well aware of what it's like to be in a position battle. He competed for backup roles at nearly every offensive line position in his first-ever training camp last season and impressed in the battle for right guard, but the injury made Forbes slide into a backup role when he returned near the end of the season.
Now, Forbes is ready for another run at a starting job. He said he's spent most of his offseason focusing on guard and center positions, but Forbes is arguably the most versatile lineman on the roster — he'll play anywhere.
His new offensive line coach, Bill Callahan, isn't afraid to shift linemen around either. Callahan has built a strong reputation in the NFL for his work in assisting linemen switch positions. His pedigree, which has been built over four decades in football, is among the strongest of any offensive line coach in the league.
Even though he hasn't worked with Callahan on the same field yet, Forbes can already see the benefits of having him as a coach in the instructional technique videos he's sent to the position group.
"It's not, 'You're watching this video because it's something we sent out,'" Forbes said. "It's a video that's going to improve your game, and the amount of technique we've been able to teach — I didn't know it was possible, honestly."
Forbes hopes the videos and offseason training will pay off in training camp. Until then, his brawn will be needed at the family farm, where he will have plenty of tasks to keep his body in shape.
For Forbes, the work is worth it, but it ]comes at a slight cost.
"I need a new pair of cleats so bad," Forbes said. "They're probably covered in cow crap."