Shel­ton looks to slim down

Pa­tri­ots’ new tackle wants to be more mo­bile

Woonsocket Call - - FRONT PAGE - bm­c­gair@paw­tuck­et­ By BREN­DAN McGAIR

FOXBORO – It didn’t take new Pa­tri­ots de­fen­sive tackle Danny Shel­ton long to re­al­ize that he’s not in Cleveland any more.

The 24-year-old who came to New Eng­land via trade in March says “it’s pretty cool” to ex­pe­ri­ence a change in off­sea­son con­di­tion­ing. A few days with his new em­ployer was all Shel­ton needed to un­der­stand what was afoot. While his body would ben­e­fit, the strug­gle would prove very real.

“I think it would be a strug­gle for any­one who’s com­ing in and not knowing how much run­ning the pro­gram asks of guys, but it’s been great so far,” said Shel­ton as he vis­ited with the me­dia at Gil­lette Sta­dium on Thurs­day. “My body has now ad­justed to all the run­ning.”

Shel­ton has bat­tled weight issues for sev­eral years. In 2016, pub­lished an ar­ti­cle about the 2015 firstround pick (No. 12 over­all) tip­ping the scales at 340 pounds head­ing into the draft and fin­ish­ing his first sea­son with the Browns at roughly 365 pounds.

Un­der­stand­ably, shed­ding weight has been a top pri­or­ity for Shel­ton since join­ing the Pa­tri­ots. The goal is slim down to 335 pounds, an ideal weight the 6-foot-2 Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton prod­uct be­lieves will en­able him to be a dis­rup­tive in­te­rior pres­ence.

“That’s the num­ber the coaches would like to see me at and I’m still work­ing to­wards that. I’m ex­pect­ing to be at 335 and dom­i­nat­ing at 335,” Shel­ton said. “There’s no rush. I’m just en­joy­ing this time with the guys and learn­ing the de­fense and get­ting great work in.

“I’m usu­ally up af­ter the sea­son, but my body is chang­ing as I con­tinue ad­just to the (Pa­tri­ots’) off­sea­son pro­gram,” Shel­ton added. “With all the changes, I know my body will be more trained for en­durance … fourth quar­ter and over­time.”

There’s one gru­el­ing facet to the con­di­tion­ing grind that Shel­ton has yet to ex­pe­ri­ence – the hills that are lo­cated be­hind the Pa­tri­ots’ prac­tice field. He’s heard sto­ries, how­ever.

“It’s de­ceiv­ing where it doesn’t look too tough, but talk­ing to the guys, it’s some­thing you don‘t want to mess with,” Shel­ton said.

Shel­ton ad­heres to a per­sonal mantra of stop­ping the run first and then rush­ing the quar­ter­back. He racked up 71 to­tal tack­les in 46 ca­reer games for the Browns along with 1.5 sacks. His pro­duc­tion dipped sig­nif­i­cantly from 2016 where he regis­tered a ca­reer-high 59 tack­les to last sea­son and a ca­reer-low 33 tack­les.

He’s also part of the same 2015 draft class that saw the Pa­tri­ots se­lect cur­rent de­fen­sive line­men Mal­com Brown and Trey Flow­ers.

“Whether they need me to push the pocket so some­one else can make a big play, I can do that,” he said. “Mal­com, Trey and my­self have reached the point where we know other play­ers and re­spect each other’s games. It’s not hard to make friends.”

Be­sides try­ing to get into ideal play­ing shape, Shel­ton has ad­di­tional mo­ti­va­tion af­ter the Pa­tri­ots elected to not pick up his fifth-year op­tion. He’s not the first player to feel such a st­ing and un­der­stand that the world of un­re­stricted free agency awaits af­ter the 2018 sea­son. He also re­al­izes that the ball is now firmly in his cor­ner.

“Ob­vi­ously it stunk at first, but at the same time you’ve got to think of it as an op­por­tu­nity,” Shel­ton said. “I’m grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to be here for the year and just try my best to dom­i­nate and see what hap­pens af­ter that.”

Photo by Bren­dan McGair

Pa­tri­ots de­fen­sive tackle Danny Shel­ton said the team’s goal for him is to drop down to 335 pounds be­fore the start of the 2018 sea­son.

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