Aaron Nagler and Michael Cohen look at the defensive back rotation and look forward to the pads coming on in Packers training camp. (July 28, 2017) USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - As the Green Bay Packers readied themselves for the first practice of the season Thursday, assistant special teams coach Jason Simmons did something of a double take when he passed rookie wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey on the sideline.
The last time Simmons had seen Yancey on a football field was at the end of minicamp five weeks earlier. And since then the fifth-round pick from Purdue worked diligently to refine his figure, which had thickened to approximately 231 pounds.
“It just wasn’t my playing weight at all,” Yancey said. “I just feel more comfortable with where I’m at right now.”
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Yancey had slimmed down to 217 pounds when he took the field Thursday for the start of training camp. It was a number that aligned with his preferred weight during a four-year career at Purdue in which he caught 141 passes for 2,344 yards and 20 touchdowns.
He felt nimble, agile and more confident with 13 pounds melted off his already-sturdy frame.
“(Even) five makes a difference,” Yancey said. “The pounds matter. It helps you be able to play faster, be quicker on your feet. It helps everything, really. It helps your demeanor when you’re going out there. You can see in the mirror (when you’re too heavy), ‘I’m not supposed to look like this in my pads.’ But everything is good now.”
Yancey said he gained the weight during the months between the end of his college season and the draft in late April. When he did not receive an invite to the combine, Yancey crisscrossed the country for pre-draft visits with teams around the league, including a stop in Green Bay.
As he traveled, Yancey said he struggled to maintain a regular exercise regimen and adhere to a strict diet. Slowly but surely, his weight increased.
“I didn’t really have time to get in a routine workout schedule,” he said.
So Yancey dedicated the five-week window between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp to resculpting his body. He made changes to his diet by eating smaller portions and avoiding snacks simply because they were available. He ate more chicken and more vegetables. He got back to running and sprinting the way he did in college.
Now, Yancey said he eats a very small amount in the morning followed by an energy bar before practice. He loads up on fruits during lunch and makes dinner his largest meal of the day.
“That made everything way better,” Yancey said.
He hopes it will help him play better, too.