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BJ Ojulari Taking Improvement In Stride

Linebacker altering footwork as he prepares for Year Two

BJ Ojulari has a new number. He also hopes to have a new stride.

A natural long-strider, the second-year outside linebacker out of LSU has been asked by coaches to cut down on the length of his stride in part to keep him healthy. Ojulari has dealt with hamstring injuries, and the training and sports performance staffs believe a shorter stride could help prevent such problems.

"Long-striders are predisposed to pulling hamstrings," coach Jonathan Gannon said.

That was only part of Ojulari's offseason overhaul, which also led to him adding about 8-to-10 pounds of muscle. That has given him a noticeable change in appearance, fitting for a player looking to make the cliched second-year jump. Ojulari is expecting to play in the high 250s as he adds power to his game.

But the stride is something that takes practice after playing one way his entire life.

"It's technical with (senior reconditioning coordinator) Buddy (Morris) and (sports science coordinator) Kyle (Sammons) getting my running motion right," Ojulari said. "I've been talking to (director of football performance) Shea (Thompson) and doing those little things to shorten up my stride but also get more frequency to maintain the same speed."

The key, Ojulari said, was just to be conscious of the effort -- presumably until it becomes second nature. And it helps beyond injury prevention.

"It helps in the run game with two feet (more often) on the ground," Ojulari said. "It allows to attack with more power."

Arizona Cardinals linebacker BJ Ojulari (9) during 2024 OTA’s Thursday, May 30, 2024 in Tempe, AZ.