Shelton looks to slim down
Patriots’ new tackle wants to be more mobile
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, NFL.com 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.”
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.