In the wake of putting together my latest column about players dropping pounds with the Cardinals, I ended up with a couple of anecdotes that didn't get in – so where better to throw them out than the blog.
Both are about guys from the 2008 rookie class: wide receiver Early Doucet and running back Tim Hightower. I had already touched on Hightower once before; he even acknowledged strength and conditioning coach John Lott knew right away he needed to lose weight. In at about 235 pounds, Hightower played last season at 222. Lott said he saw Hightower run a couple of times early and thought quickly he'd never make the corner on a sweep unless he was quicker and lighter. "I told Hightower, 'You get caught once in this league from behind, that's your m.o. there,' " Lott said. " 'You're the guy who can't take it the distance and you don't want that.' " Having seen Hightower this offseason, he looks even better in terms of being in shape.
Doucet's story speaks more to why Lott gives the young players time before he narrows down his weight preference. Lott was told (by whom he didn't say; I can only guess by someone who worked with Doucet at LSU) that Doucet played at about 206 or 207 pounds. Then Doucet showed up at 222 and Lott was surprised – not just because there was weight to lose, but that 207 didn't seem to fit Doucet's body type. Doucet worked hard through the summer but the lowest Lott got him was 209 "and it's hot out here," Lott said. "It's not like you are out eating pizzas when you leave this place." Ultimately, Doucet was pegged at closer to 212 and that's where he played at all year.
Losing and gaining weight can be a controversial process in the NFL. Does this guy need to get quicker? Does this guy need to bulk up? Philosophies differ. Clearly, though, the Cards' current groupthink is to streamline.