In case you needed yet another reminder that the league’s and teams’ official height and weight measurements are not always to be trusted—in fact, they can be comically off according to season-to-season fluctuations based on coaches’ requests for players—the latest comes from Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams.
Williams, at 5’9”, weighed in at 215 pounds at the Combine back in 2006, when he was drafted in the first round by the Carolina Panthers, but, in spite of the fact that he has been consistently listed at that weight, he has not played that light since his college days, according to a variety of sources.
Williams recently spoke to Sporting News, revealing to Tadd Haislip that head coach Mike Tomlin requested he report to training camp under 220 pounds, which Haislip writing that “Williams hasn’t played at that weight in almost a decade”.
Tomlin wants to make sure that, at the age of 32, Williams is able to retain as much of that burst of speed that he has left in the tank, as he will be needed, especially in the early portions of the season, to serve a significant role in what the team believes can be a championship-caliber offensive unit.
Considering that Le’Veon Bell’s playing weight is around 220 pounds himself, and is four inches taller than his new backup, that indicates that Williams played was a deceptive amount of bulk over the course of much of his career.
The Steelers don’t need him to be a featured running back after the first three games, or so it is hopes. They don’t need him to be a power runner whose endurance relies upon his muscle mass. Instead, they are clearly more interested in utilizing his explosiveness, which according to spring practice reports, seems to have been intact despite an injury-plagued 2014 season.
Part of why Williams has played at such a significant weight for a back of his height is quite simple: he has a sweet tooth. Haislip quoted Williams as saying that he will “head straight to Krispy Kreme” after the Steelers win the Super Bowl.
It has been a struggle for Williams to maintain his diet to get his weight down per Tomlin’s request, cutting out the rice-base carbohydrates that had been a staple of his routine, but it’s a sacrifice that he is willing to make in order to make himself as useful as possible to his new team.
The Steelers offensive line has shifted over the years from predominantly power concepts to the incorporation of more finesse principles, which would fit the profile of requesting Williams to drop some weight as the team prepares to defend its division title.
While the spring reports have been positive, I will be keen to see how the many eyes in training camp find his explosiveness, which seemed to be on the decline, or at least not as readily accessible as it once was, last season. If he can regain some more explosiveness, and the Steelers can properly harness that asset while keeping him relatively clean, then I can see him being a very productive reserve if needed.