My comparative story dates back two years. Michael Johnson, Cincinnati's former defensive end that moved south in March, spent the offseason two years ago adding nearly 15 pounds of bulk, which translated to a career-high 11.5 quarterback sacks. Then last year it was yoga -- his sack total dropped to 3.5 (his lowest since 2010). Players become better, stronger, faster based on their regiment during the offseason. The hard work is year-round.
Bengals offensive guard Kevin Zeitler is applying these lessons, but with a twist. He wanted to eat better.
"I took a hard approach to my nutrition," Zeitler said via ESPN. "I got a little heavy last year with the injury and everything. I met with a couple nutritionists and did everything I could to get my body back to what it naturally is."
As ESPN's Coley Harvey points out, Zeitler hasn't lost much weight but his body is more lean than it was last year.
Zeitler was listed at 315 pounds last season, and remains there entering next week's training camp, per Bengals.com. He believes his body fat percentage was a little elevated, as well as his in-season weight, affecting his ability not only to avoid the injury but to recover from it.
Zeitler missed four games last year due to a foot injury, but returned for the regular season finale against Baltimore (played 53 of 71 snaps) and the wild card game against the San Diego Chargers (played 51 of 81 snaps).
Despite gutting it out towards the end, Zeitler faced the proverbial sophomore slump that tends to take many second-year players by surprise. Cincinnati's starting right guard finished with a PFF score of 7.0 last season -- with 6.7 coming from run blocking -- which is a significant decrease from last year's 14.3 overall -- 9.1 pass blocking and 2.7 run block.