A weight off their backs, and bel­lies, for Cow­boys

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Stephen Hawkins

SAN AN­TO­NIO — Pro Bowl linebacker DeMar­cus Ware says he’s nearly 10 pounds lighter, which is mak­ing him feel stronger and faster dur­ing the Dal­las Cow­boys’ train­ing camp. An­thony Spencer feels the same af­ter shed­ding a few pounds dur­ing the off­sea­son.

“A lot of guys are a lot lighter this year, be­cause it’s all pred­i­cated now, our de­fense, we have those big guys in the mid­dle and

we’re run­ning a lot more than the big­ger guys,” said Ware, now in the 255-pound range. “We need to bring a lit­tle bit more speed to the ta­ble, a lit­tle bit more sort of ver­sa­til­ity. We sort of shrunk down a lit­tle bit.”

Cor­ner­back Mike Jenk­ins also is a few pounds lighter, but the thin­ning trend isn’t con­fined to the guys play­ing the 3-4 de­fense, or only to the play­ers for the NFC East cham­pion Cow­boys who have still have ris­ing ex­pec­ta­tions.

Bruis­ing run­ning back Mar­ion Bar­ber thinned down so much that at 218 pounds he ac­tu­ally weighs about two pounds less than speedy tail­back Felix Jones. Even quar­ter­back Tony Romo came to camp about five pounds lighter than ex­pected, at around 223 pounds.

Coach Wade Phillips, who lost about 40 pounds since last sea­son, be­lieves even those mi­nor shifts in body weight will help the play­ers max­i­mize their tal­ents.

“I al­ways tell them I want them to run as fast as they can. That’s re­ally what you want to be able to do,” Phillips said. Weight loss “usu­ally helps your quick­ness, but again you have to be a cer­tain size. You can’t be a 250-pound de­fen­sive line­man. But I like them quick and fast.”

The 63-year-old coach, who is also the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and added the ti­tle of grand­fa­ther the week be­fore camp, proved to be quite an ex­am­ple with his weight loss. He is clearly mov­ing much more nim­bly on the field.

“It’s good to see Wade mov­ing around and not breath­ing hard out here,” linebacker Bradie James said.

Dur­ing some de­fen­sive drills Fri­day, Phillips was ac­tively mov­ing with the play­ers while teach­ing.

He even played the role of an end, drop­ping back and tak­ing the ini­tial steps with a re­ceiver in a pass-cov­er­age drill for de­fen­sive backs.

Af­ter the horn blew, end­ing a drill ear­lier this week, when the of­fense and de­fense were on the op­po­site ends of the field, Sam Hurd caught a pass and was run­ning to­ward mid­field.

Phillips was com­ing from the other end and broke down in a de­fen­sive stance in front of Hurd, who re­sponded with a play­ful move to get around the coach.

Ware, the team’s sacks leader with more than 10 in each of the last four sea­sons, said the heav­i­est he was in col­lege as a de­fen­sive end at Troy was 242 his se­nior year. He had to gain weight to play linebacker in the NFL, and had bulked up to the 262-265 range last sea­son.

“I feel a lot quicker,” Ware said. “That ex­tra added poundage tears you down at the end of the sea­son, but now I feel re­ally fresh.”

Still, the thing that Phillips finds hard to be­lieve is that “Felix Jones is heav­ier than Mar­ion Bar­ber.”

Bar­ber wanted to lose a few pounds for quick­ness, and the coach be­lieves that will ben­e­fit the hard-charg­ing run­ner. At the same time, Jones said it was his choice to add some mus­cle.

“I’m kind of fill­ing into my body,” the 23-year-old Jones said. “Work­ing hard this off­sea­son, I put on a lit­tle bit of mus­cle. Not any­thing else, straight mus­cle.”

Asked if he feels fat, Jones quickly re­sponded, “Not at all, not at all.”

For­mer Cow­boys of­fen­sive line­man Nate Newton, who once weighed as much as 411 pounds, went a lit­tle more ex­treme to slim down. He had a sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure for a gas­tric sleeve that dra­mat­i­cally de­creased the size of his stom­ach.

Newton, now work­ing for ESPN Ra­dio in Dal­las, is al­most un­rec­og­niz­able on the side­line at train­ing camp. Since the pro­ce­dure in April, Newton has lost 133 pounds — from 396 to 263 — and his waist size has de­creased from 56 to 40 inches.

“No­body rec­og­nizes me. No­body knows me if I don’t open my mouth,” Newton said with a smile.

Tony Gu­tier­rez

Cow­boys wide re­ceiver Dez Bryant is as­sisted off the field by train­ers af­ter in­jur­ing his right an­kle dur­ing prac­tice Fri­day.

Tony Gu­tier­rez

Dal­las Cow­boys linebacker DeMar­cus Ware (94) says he’s about 10 pounds lighter, and feel­ing a lot stronger and faster.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.