FOXBORO — The Patriots offseason program is infamous for its punishing conditioning runs. For newcomers, April is often a rude awakening. During a time when players are getting into the swing of things physically, the Patriots training staff pulls no punches.
Danny Shelton can attest to that.
The mammoth defensive tackle came to the Patriots in March via a trade with the Cleveland Browns. The 24-year-old says this program has his body feeling different just four weeks into the offseason workouts.
“It was a struggle,” Shelton said on Thursday. “I think it’d be a struggle for anybody coming in and not knowing how much running the program asks of you. It’s been great so far through.”
Shelton has been dealing with weight issues for years. He stands 6-foot-2 and is listed at 335 pounds, but admits that he gains weight toward the end of each season and that continues to go up in the offseason. At the moment, the number ‘335’ is a goal and one he’s trying to reach by September.
That’s where Patriots strength and conditioning coaches Moses Cabrera and James Hardy come in. After three years in Cleveland, Shelton experienced a different style of offseason workouts. Here in Foxboro, it’s more focused on running — and the Patriots haven’t even started their hill workouts yet. (The hill is next to the practice field and something that player’s credit with keeping them in shape throughout the long season).
“I think any other team would say the same thing,” Shelton said when asked if the Patriots trained differently. “But then again, I’ve only been on one team and only done one offseason program. Now that I’m here it’s pretty cool to change it up a little bit and watch my body change.
“I’m usually up after the season. Then I’m doing my workout program and getting back down. As far as my body changing, adjusting to the offseason program that they have — the running and the lifting. It’s seeing my body adjust to it and improve weekly.”
Shelton comes to the Patriots after a down season in Cleveland where his 33 tackles were a career-low. For someone who was drafted 12th overall in 2015, the trade in March was a disappointing end to his career with the Browns.
Not only could a fresh start with the Patriots rejuvenate his career, but it could literally pay dividends. This month, the Patriots declined Shelton’s fifth-year option, which makes him an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Shelton admitted that it hurt when the Pats declined the option, but he’s hoping to prove his worth this season.
“Obviously, it sucked at first,” Shelton said. “At the same time, you’ve got to think of it as an opportunity. For me, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be here for the year and to just try my best to dominate and put myself out there and see what happens after that.”
Shelton hopes that all the conditioning will leave him in better shape as the season goes on. The defensive tackle could play a big role in the middle of the Patriots defensive line. With Alan Branch gone, Shelton could start next to Malcom Brown, who also had his option declined.
On the field, Shelton’s goal is to help the Patriots run defense.
“Really, it’s just a matter of stopping the run first and having the opportunity to rush the passer. I’m going to establish that first — make sure I’m going to be the guy they brought me in for, to stop the run. I’ll also help out wherever they need me… As of right now, continue to do what the coaches ask for and continue to learn the playbook.”
As Shelton continues to slim down to 335, he admits that he’s actually started to enjoy all the conditioning. The hope is that the extra work will result in him having a career year in 2018.
“That’s the number I’ve always been at. Obviously, I get up towards the end of the year,” he said. “Over here, it’s going to be more of the standard I’m going to keep myself at, expecting to be at 335 and dominating at 335.”
Published at Thu, 17 May 2018 18:57:17 +0000