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Bengals rookie DE Sam Hubbard is already taking extra steps to be more competitive

It is often talked about how players will go that extra mile in order to stay competitive; Sam Hubbard is already doing that in his rookie season.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

When the Bengals drafted Sam Hubbard in the third round of this year’s draft, they got a 270 pound defensive end who was known for his high motor and versatility. It appears Hubbard’s motor is just always running on his way to becoming successful in the NFL. That’s clear as the rookie is already taking steps in his life off-the-field in order to be even more competitive.

“He’s already taking an eye for performance-based foods that are going to help him on the field,” Bengals team nutritionist Erin Kratzer told Mike Dyer of WCPO.

Hubbard is far from the first young player to make this move, but it shows his drive more than anything. This is something you see more with veteran players as they try to extend their career or look to get that extra boost during an important season.

“That’s one of those things I’ve picked up since leaving college, with diet being so important,” Hubbard said. “Since I’ve been here, and especially in pre-draft, I’m just trying to pay attention to never eating fried foods and stuff like that. Being smart about what you are taking into your body, because that’s really the key from here on out. That’s really big to me.”

This fits the narrative that Hubbard has been working to create since joining the Bengals. He played so well for the Bengals during minicamp and OTAs that Marvin Lewis said that he was “ahead of the curve.” Lewis even went on to say he expects Hubbard to be a part of the pass rushing rotation right away in his rookie year.

Part of the reason Hubbard should see snaps early is due to his versatility to move inside to defensive tackle in passing situations, which is something the Bengals did plenty of last season with Michael Johnson and Jordan Willis. In order to deal with the big bodies on the inside of the offensive line, Hubbard has been making sure he is in the best shape of his life.

“He’s very into all the other aspects that’s going to make him a better football player,” Kratzer said. “How he’s recovering and how he’s eating — all of the things beyond just football and weightlifting to get him stronger.”

The biggest thing though is how this should have an impact on the length of his career. Since he is starting with this so soon, his body could be in better condition to handle the grind of an NFL season better once he starts hitting that 30-year-old mark.

“I know Sam has sought out deeper information on how can I feed this body for performance,” Bengals strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton said. “The goal is to lengthen the career — whether it’s in training, film study or whether it’s in eating or sleeping. You want to look down the road. How can I be great now and next year and the year after that and how can I keep this going for as long as I want and perform at a high level?”

Some people may see all this and not realize what a big deal it could be. So what if a rookie is opting for fish and chicken over a burger? But it’s all about the tone being set. Hubbard is setting the bar for other rookies and young players on the team. The longer he is here the more younger guys will look at him and see how it needs to be done if you want to stay in this league for a long time.