Jaguars want 'Pot Roast' leaner in training camp
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)
He was tired, drenched in sweat and ready for a break.
He wasn't done, though. Not even close.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are putting the 346-pound defensive tackle through intense conditioning workouts, trying to get the player nicknamed ''Pot Roast'' a little leaner. It's no easy task.
Knighton, who started 16 games as a rookie last season, admittedly let himself go during the offseason. A steak-and-potatoes guy, he ate too many carbs and spent too many hours lounging around on the couch. It didn't help that his focus shifted toward moving his mother and three younger brothers from Hartford, Conn., to Jacksonville, and taking in a 22-year-old cousin.
''It was my first offseason. People make mistakes. My priorities were a little messed up, but I'm on the right track now,'' Knighton said.
The Jaguars hope so. They need Knighton to shed the extra weight and get back to playing the way he did last season.
A third-round pick from Temple, Knighton was one of the few bright spots on a defense that ranked last in the league with a franchise-low 14 sacks and, at times, looked confused trying to tackle.
Knighton finished with 53 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble. He was at his best against the run, clogging up the middle and funneling running backs outside.
''He's a big guy. We want him big. I don't want him to become a skinny guy,'' coach Jack Del Rio said. ''But he's got to get his weight where we want it. He knows what that is. He's working at it and so we'll just keep working him.
''The one thing about it that's amazing is his footwork is as good as it is. For a big man, he really has great feet. He's very natural with his hands and leverage and he's got great feet for a big man. So I don't think this should be a story about anything other than he's here working his butt off and he's doing a nice job for us.''
His work ethic has been questioned, though.
Knighton begged out of a pass-rushing drill Sunday and has been relegated to running with the second-team defense. The potential season-ending injury to rookie D'Anthony Smith (Achilles' tendon) and the arrival of first-round draft pick Tyson Alualu should put even more pressure on Knighton to perform.
''You can always build on your rookie year,'' said Knighton, who was nicknamed ''Pot Roast'' when he ordered the meal on a charter flight to Seattle last season. ''The level's a lot higher now and the expectations are a lot higher. You can feel the difference with the team, you can feel the difference with the defense.''
Coaches are waiting to see a difference in Knighton's physique.
Knighton acknowledged that moving his family south this spring and then eating his mother's cooking on a regular basis was part of the problem.
Rochelle Knighton gave birth to a 9-pound, 10-ounce baby boy in July 1986, then raised Terrance as a single mother who worked tireless hours to provide for her family.
''Being a young mom, it's just fast food, quick stuff,'' she said. ''Broccoli? Yuck! Now, it's like let's buckle down and do what we have to do.''
Rochelle Knighton wasn't around all the time last season, so Knighton mostly stuck to what the Jaguars put in front of him. But things changed when mom arrived in early April.
''When I did get here, it was like, 'I need to feed my baby,''' she said. ''I am mostly to blame.''
His favorite food was homemade macaroni and cheese - heavy on the cheese, of course.
Terrance started to balloon a bit before minicamp in May and looked somewhat lethargic during organized team activities. That's when strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson stepped in. Richesson started keeping Knighton around the facility for two meals each day and then brought him home for dinners cooked by his wife, former Olympic gold medalist swimmer Anita Nall. Richesson also sent a nutritionist to the grocery store with Rochelle.
''I still get a little steak here and there, but I cut out the potatoes,'' Terrance Knighton said. ''A lot of vegetables. I've come a long ways. In the offseason I got a little heavy, had too much fun. ... I'm mature from that. I know how to handle my body now. I learn from things and move on.''
Del Rio would like to see Knighton lose at least another 10 pounds. Until then, he'll have to continue spending extra time running sprints.
''He's just working his way into the player that we need him to be for us this year and working hard every day in doing the things that we're asking him to do,'' Del Rio said. ''I'm sure he'll continue to fight his way and be where we need him when it's all said and done.''