The Bengals current roster lists Michael Johnson at 267 pounds. That was his listed weight last year, but the 25-year-old defensive end appears noticeably bigger as he prepares for his 4th NFL season.
On Tuesday, I asked the former Georgia Tech standout if he had gained any weight.
“A little bit,” said Johnson.
“How much?” I asked.
“A little bit,” he repeated.
“Are you closer to 270 or 280?” I persisted.
“I’m not saying,” Michael said with a grin. “It’s over what was listed on the roster last year and we’re going to try to keep it there the whole year.”
While his actual weight remains a mystery for now, it’s obvious that the former high school valedictorian has worked hard in the off-season to add bulk to his lean 6’7” frame.
“He has gotten heavier and really worked hard in the off-season trying to gain weight, maintain weight, and maintain strength,” said defensive line coach Jay Hayes. “That’s something that he’s really worked on and you can see it.”
“It will help me hold up,” said Johnson. “We play in one of the most physical divisions in the NFL and anytime you can add body armor it can’t do anything but help. That’s how I look at it – I’m putting more armor on.”
Did the added “armor” result from lifting weights or a change in diet?
“A little bit of both, but I’d say mostly diet,” said Johnson. “It’s a matter of learning how to eat the right stuff at the right time. I’ve never been a bad eater. I’m a naturally lean guy and I have a feeling that it’s going to help me when I’m done playing, but right now, I need to keep the weight on. I’m just trying to eat right, lift, and do the right stuff.”
Johnson is coming off of his best NFL season as he finished third on the team in sacks (6), third in tackles-for-loss (8), and fourth in QB pressures (11). One of his goals for 2012 is to maintain his level of play over the course of the entire season.
“Just be more consistent throughout the whole year and go from there,” Michael told me. “I’m going to continue to do what they ask me to do and just improve each day, each week, each year. If I keep doing that, I’ll be alright.”
“He had a couple of nuisance injuries and it’s tough to play a whole season without anything bothering you,” said Coach Hayes. “That’s why he’s been working so hard to add the weight and add the strength. He’s doing everything that he can to be sure that he’s prepared. That’s what we want.”
“I’m still not where I want to be,” said Johnson. “I’m sure that I’m never going to be comfortable with whatever I do, but I’m going to continue to keep working. As a professional athlete, you have to be your toughest critic and I feel like I am. Each year, I’m going to critique myself and try to become better at the stuff that I’m not good at. That’s my goal – to find stuff that needs to be improved upon and get it done.”
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