As the Pittsburgh Steelers players departed mandatory minicamp just over a month ago, head coach Mike Tomlin had a message for his team, and it was simple: Show up to training camp in the best physical condition possible. You would imagine most NFL teams would have a coach deliver a similar message to their team before the players depart for a month before the season officially begins; however, Tomlin seems to be quite serious in his request, and the proof is with his handling of the veterans.
Oftentimes teams will give the veterans on the team a bit more leniency when referring to things like conditioning, knowing they will be prepared when the games when they truly count. Think back to the numerous times Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin saw Casey Hampton fail the run test to start training camp, only to see him get into shape by the first regular season game.
Tomlin and company seem to be focusing more on the training leading up to camp this year, and that includes 10-year vetearn RB DeAngelo Williams.
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The Steelers told Williams they wanted him to be under 220-pounds before training camp, a number he hasn't seen since he entered the NFL out of Memphis. So what is Williams doing to keep his weight in check before training camp? Getting some help from some friends...and by friends he means nutritionists.
"I have a nutritionist I have to check in with every day," Williams told the Sporting News. However, don't let the fact he has to check in with a nutritionist sway your thinking in regards to his eating habits.
"I have this thing where if (the nutritionist) doesn't text me right back, I kind of eat what I want to eat," Williams explained. "So I'm at the (movie theater) counter and I'm like, 'man I want some popcorn; I wonder if I can eat some popcorn. I'm gonna hit him up real quick.'"
When the nutritionist doesn't respond immediately, he goes ahead with his purchase, but doesn't get very far before he gets a response. The response wasn't what he wanted to hear.
"As I'm about to eat the kernel, I'm like 'yeah whatever.' And then I started looking at the nutrition facts, and I just put the kernel back in the box and just passed it to my girl."
Williams is a veteran, and he gets "it". He is on a team now with very lofty goals. No longer on a team like the Carolina Panthers still searching for their first Lombardi trophy, Williams is now on a team looking for their seventh.
Tomlin is wise to expect the most out of his players at every turn throughout this process, and their conditioning would be the first order of business for a team trying to improve off their 11-5 2014 season and win their first playoff game since the disaster in Denver against Tim Tebow and the Broncos. If the rest of the Steelers follow Williams' lead as a veteran on the team, conditioning will not be an issue when the team reports to training camp this Saturday. And that would be a great start for the 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers.