It happened three years ago with Michael Johnson, a former third-rounder that Cincinnati picked up in the 2009 NFL draft, who took a serious approach with his offseason program. Johnson shifted from an overworked ho-hum pass rusher to being the recipient of a $43.75 million five-year contract with $24 million guaranteed, due to programs that added bulk and improved his elasticity through yoga over the final two offseasons in Cincinnati -- aka, contract years... but there's no need to be cynical.
Johnson is gone but his offseason legacy continues through second-year defensive end, Margus Hunt. According to the Mothership, Hunt has already gained 11 pounds during the offseason, which has defensive line coach Jay Hayes a little giddy.
"I can’t wait to see him," Hayes says of training camp, "at (291) pounds and hunting guys."
That would be about 11 more pounds than Hunt worked with last season while keeping intact what people around Paul Brown Stadium call his "freakish," 6-8 athleticism. Couple it with a spring-long stint at only left end that has simplified matters and Hayes is confident enough to make some projections even before the pads go on in late July.
"I think it’s going to be a very good improvement," Hayes says. "I think he’s going to give us quite a few plays at the left end."
Save for the general interest on the team's most popular players, Hunt figures to be in first position for the proverbial "biggest offseason jump" due to the vacuum that Johnson's departure caused. With Carlos Dunlap shifting to right defensive end, Hunt commands a significant opportunity as a long-term solution at left defensive end.
The only questions I have is will that resolve happened through freakish athleticism or a renewed mentality? And will he survive being poisoned by Prince Oberyn?