Who can forget Casey "Big Snack" Hampton showing up at Saint Vincent College for the 2008 training camp so out of shape he failed the running test. At the time, Mike Tomlin said, "He's overweight and he's not conditioned enough to participate at this point." Fans also remember with horror and disappointment Lamarr Woodley's poor conditioning his last season with the Black and Gold. An unnamed teammate complained about the pudgy OLB in 2013 saying, "He wasn't in shape. That has to be a reason why he was always hurt."
This offseason, Mike Tomlin was clear about his expectations for his players. He told them to come to training camp in the best shape of their lives. Several players took that directive very seriously, and some didn't wait until summer to get to their ideal weight.
Case #1: RB DeAngelo Williams Apparently DeAngelo "Don't We Have Interns for This?" Williams wasn't in good enough shape to unload his car independently when he arrived at training camp, but it was still clear he did some serious work in the offseason. With the help of a nutritionist, and the fear Tomlin placed in his players' hearts, Williams dropped 13 pounds and got his body fat down to an astonishing five percent.
Case #2: NT Dan McCullers Strength and conditioning coach Garrette Giemont helped Big Dan reach a more appropriate weight. Position coach John Mitchell said, "Right now, you take a guy again like Dan McCullers, he's dropped some weight and he's a guy down there when it's go time, bug nickel, he'll be one of the guys we have in there." He also said, "I don't care how big you are, if you're not in shape and you can't do it, it's not OK. It's not OK with me." Sounds like McCullers is in OK-range right now.
Case #3: WR Martavis Bryant Not all players need to lose weight. Martavis Bryant, for example, weighed 200 pounds when he played at Clemson. At 6 feet 4 inches, Bryant needed to put on weight. Last year he got up to 215 and was able to add an other 10 pounds in the off season. In June, Bryant told the Post-Gazette, "Everyone gets bigger and better every year." Bryant's BMI wasn't quite at have-a-cheeseburger levels, but it is good to know he's added some strength to his lean frame.
Case #4: WR Antonio Brown Like Bryant, Brown gained weight this off season, adding five pounds of muscle to his frame. Brown's goal is to be more durable while maintaining the agility and speed that make him one of the best wide receivers in the league. In June Brown said to ESPN.com, "Taking care of myself as far as training, getting proper rest, knowing what it takes to perform at a high level. Nutrition paid dividends for me last year, and just understanding even more now with the time last year is accommodating way better."
Fighting for a spot on the team:
Case #5: LB Anthony Chickillo Linebackers' weight has been on Joey Porter's radar since the draft. In May, Porter revealed that he used to play at 250 pounds and that Bud Dupree's fighting weight is 270. Chickillo admitted that he got up to 284 at Miami and "It never felt right." Now, he is a svelt, well maybe "svelt" isn't the best word for a linebacker, 253. Will Chickillo be a more serious contender for a roster spot at his new weight?
Case #6: DE Clifton Geathers "I asked for Clifton Geathers," revealed defensive line coach John Mitchell. Geathers is taking advantage of the opportunity by dropping weight at the request of his new coach, losing an astonishing 50 pounds. Geathers said, "Yeah, I feel real good. I can't complain about anything because everything feels good, man." Could his commitment and hard work help him challenge Cam Thomas?
In 2014 Le'Veon Bell dropped 20 pounds in the offseason with the intent of "Turning an 8 yard gain into a 70-yard gain" by being faster and more explosive. The weight loss paid off big. He went on to have an astonishingly productive year. Hopefully this year's offseason body transformations will have an equally positive impact.