Sure, he may have a serious challenger for his starting job in just a couple of days, but Tim Hightower is feeling confident. The running back has got a year under his belt – which the rookie won't – and he feels like he is in much better shape. Talking to him recently, I mentioned to him that he looked like he had bulked up a little. Hightower acknowledged that he had been working hard – and that at this time last year, that had been impossible.
If you remember, Hightower had not been invited to the scouting combine. So when he participated in his pro day about a month before the draft and did pretty well, teams suddenly took an interest. Because draftees can't make visits to teams within a week of the draft, Hightower said he had to make 11 visits in a three-week span (and had to turn down a couple of others because of time constraints). That doesn't do much for a guy trying to work out.
"I was here to there, Kansas City to San Diego to Green Bay to Philadelphia, and they are feeding you filet mignon and going to Flemings and Ruth's Chris and all that stuff," Hightower said. "You are trying to work out in hotels on treadmills. I wasn't in shape at this time last year. I tried. I tried to be committed, but come on."
Hightower wouldn't say what his weight had been. "I ain't telling on myself, but (strength and conditioning coach) John Lott knew. I walked in and he called me Baby Huey or something. 'You've got about 10 pounds to lose.' I am down 15. The difference a year makes."
All along Hightower has said he will be in a better position to succeed in his second year because he is, in his mind ahead of the curve. And certainly ahead of any drafted running back.